How to keep hope in dark times.
In the early years of starting my family I was directly impacted by a horrible tragedy that tore my life apart and sent my world spiraling out of control. It is through that experience that I have come to realize that it has gifted me with great understanding.
When people speak to me about falling into despair, I remember those years and my empathy is evident.
When you are touched by the darkest, most tragic moments of life, how do you keep your hope alive? How do you do it as an individual, and how do you do it as a nation if something so horrific happens that hundreds or even thousands of lives are changed forever as in the aftermath of a terrorist attack?
What you learn is that hope is the one concrete gift you have in this world that no set of circumstances, no pressuring or bullying or tragedy can take from you.
Your hope is your defiance against what is happening around you, and because of that, it is the one thing that you can control and feel sufficiently empowered by to begin the process of rebuilding.
I like to talk and write about hope sometimes because it is the most important of all of the human emotions at different stages of our lives. It is the most impactful fuel for change that has ever existed in previous generations, and in this one.
When I mention the importance of hope in our lives, some people dismiss it as if I were advocating that we take a kind of Pollyanna or rose-tinged glasses view of the world. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Hope isn’t a veil through which we dim reality.
Neither is it a childish view of the world or an illogical belief that everything will be fine, even though there is no foundation at all for such a thought.
It is taking a clear view of what is happening around you and still believing that you can rise again and become something more than you are at this darkest moment of time. In a way, hope isn’t so much an emotion as it is a perspective.
It is finding the courage to act again, despite the complexities that surround us. It is looking for a new road when you are at the edge of a cliff. It is knowing that despite the darkness, there is a candle burning somewhere and all you have to do is locate it and you too will see clearly again.
We live in uncertain times, when planes crash into office towers, when bombs blow up as teenagers walk out of concert halls. Hope gives us a rare power in these horrible moments.
As Rebecca Solnit explains in her book Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities (https://www.amazon.com/Hope-Dark-Untold-Histories-Possibilities/dp/1560258284), “when you recognize uncertainty, you recognize that you may be able to influence the outcomes – you alone or you in concert with a few dozen or several million others.”
She describes hope as “an embrace of the unknown and the unknowable, an alternative to the certainty of both optimists and pessimists.”
“It is important to emphasize that hope is only a beginning; it’s not a substitute for action, only a basis for it,” she cautions us.
How do we engage our hope when we most need it?
We look around us and take stock of our damage. Then, just as we would after a physical mishap, we test if our limbs still move and our pain is manageable. Then we stand up, breathe deeply and let hope enter our air passages and fill us with the resolve to recover and live again and live better.
If you want to keep going when others would just crumble and crawl away, it is the lantern that will guide you to your new reality.
Paula Morand, CSP is a leadership building, revenue boosting, strategy expanding keynote speaker, author and visionary. This dreaming big and being bold leadership expert and brand strategist brings her vibrant energy, humor and wisdom to ignite individuals, organizations and communities to lead change, growth and bold impact. 23 years, 25,000 clients, 19 countries, 13 books, former radio personality, 11x award winning entrepreneur and humorous emcee.
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