Mind-Body Health

Why Renewal Begins with Hope

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Hope is more than just positive thinking in tough times. Hope involves a belief that despite adversity there is a possibility of better days. Hope requires resilient thinking and conscious action. It can pull you away from rumination and inspire perseverance. Hope plants seeds for a new beginning while simultaneously shining a new perspective on past sorrow.

Renewal springs forth from the seed of hope, offering the opportunity to resume or reset something that may have been worn down or interrupted. The light of hope is a gift you can use to renew your vitality and belief in a bright future. Struggling to feel light? Try these tips to access more hope and renewal.

Feel More Positive Emotions

One of the challenges with using the term “positive emotion” is that it implies there are also negative emotions. A healthy person experiences a full range of emotions—both the ones that feel good and the ones that do not. Emotional intelligence is the skill that allows you to move quickly through the ones that feel yucky and to prolong and invoke the ones that feel good. Positive psychologist Barbara Fredrickson researched the most commonly experienced positive emotions for her book “Positivity.” They are:

  • Love
  • Joy
  • Gratitude
  • Serenity
  • Interest
  • Awe
  • Pride
  • Amusement
  • Inspiration
  • Hope

The difference between hope and the other emotions is that hope comes more easily than some of the others in tough times. Making a conscious effort to experience any of the emotions on the list will help you to turn a negative downward spiral into an upward spiral—revitalizing your spirit. This is known as broadening and building, and it is like investing in a better future by feeling the way you want to feel in the future, now. The ability to use your emotional intelligence to change the direction of a downward spiral is the key to actively moving from hope to vitality.

Connect with a Friend

Every friendship is different. Some friends feel inspiring and energizing while others feel draining. In times where you need more hope, spend time with friends who are inspiring, optimistic, and fun to be around. It is not your friends’ job to lift you but when you have a friend whose light feels contagious it can help you reset your mindset and get back to feeling and being your best self.

Becoming aware of the energy of a relationship will help you with your personal energy management too. Find a friend who is also choosing to revamp their lifestyle to feel well—your behavior is greatly impacted by the friends you spend time with.

You may want to explore making new connections with people who inspire you to prioritize a healthy lifestyle. Join a biking group or try a new yoga class. Volunteer for a beach clean-up, get involved in your local soup kitchen, or organize a personal growth book club. Feeling connected and part of something will help keep the momentum toward positivity and breathe new life into your day.

Comparison Isn’t Always a Thief of Joy

When my daughter was first diagnosed with autism, I was feeling pretty low. In a support group, I met another parent whose child had autism and she was also undergoing treatment for cancer. Not only did this reframe my situation—sure autism wasn’t what I wanted for my daughter but at least it wasn’t autism and cancer—but it also helped me to know that if others were successfully coping with more than I was, I too could get through this tough period of my life.

When you need hope, look to those who have made it through and thrived. Having a mentor, or role model, whose journey inspires you can buoy your spirit; they can reinvigorate your spirit and help you carry on with enthusiasm instead of resignation.

Find Your Zest

Zest if the feeling when you are enthusiastic, energized, and vital. Zest is a character strength, meaning you have it as a tool you can use. According to Ryan Niemiec from VIA Character, zest is a dynamic strength that is directly related to physical and psychological wellness. His research has shown that this strength has the strongest ties to overall life satisfaction and living a life of engagement. Spend some time thinking about when you feel energized by an activity and spend some time at that activity when you need a battery recharge.

Find Your Om

Meditation with the mantra Om is a centering practice that can help bring calm or peace when you are feeling out of sorts. Each part of the three bits of this tiny word (Aaa-Uoo-Mmm) is said to represent creation, manifestation, and destruction.

If you have a regular meditation practice, try adding an om chant to the start or finish. If you don’t have a meditation practice yet, you might want to try one of these:

Take Your Cue from the Season

Author F. Scott Fitzgerald may have said it best in “The Great Gatsby” when he wrote, “And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.” Although seasonal transitions may seem arbitrary, there is wisdom in nature and her ability to start over with enthusiasm. Spend a moment gazing at the sky, watching the leaves in the wind, or smelling the fresh air after a rainfall on a hot afternoon.

Hope is the first step, listening to what your body and spirit needs is the second, and taking actionable pathways to begin again regularly is the final step to help empower and inspire you toward renewal.