COVID-19 is here. The media is constantly reporting on the dangers we face and warning us to practice social distancing. We are told to be cautious. There are constant conversations at social gatherings, in passing, and within relationships about it. Is it as bad as they say? Is it being hyped for political reasons? Is it safe to go to the grocery store, go in public, to live our lives in any ordinary way? Lives are being negatively impacted, businesses are threatened.
People who almost never speak about personal views will at least mumble under their breath about this horror show, that is presenting itself to us daily. How do we find hope in the face of such a worldwide threat?
In Greek mythology, Pandora was the first human woman created by the gods. She was given many gifts, including a box that she was told not to open under any circumstances. One day, she indulged her curiosity and opened the box to see what was inside.
When she lifted the top, she released all the ills in the world: hate, revenge, prejudice, destruction, disease and pain. She quickly slammed the top shut, but it was too late. The damage was done. According to the myth, one trait did not escape. Pandora managed to hold on to hope.
The Greeks used this story to explain why bad things happen in the world, and to explain how people can get through the hard times. Hope allows people to weather the ills of the world. It's something we all need in our lives.
What is Hope?
Hope is a desire or a longing for a particular event, thing or situation that one considers possible. It is not wishful thinking or a fantasy. Hope is based in reality and possibility. It is to believe change is possible.
Hope is important. It creates motivation and energy to work toward change and accomplishment. People who have true hope are happier, less depressed and anxious.
It is true that all our hopes do not come to fruition or bring the changes we desire, but that does not mean we should stop. We need to ground our hope in reality and real possibility. For example, few people will win the lottery no matter how much we long for it or how many tickets we buy.
You may ask, what if I feel hopeless? Hope is something we create. It begins in childhood with a secure and supportive family and continues throughout life. For the many who did not have that kind of childhood. Hope can be developed and strengthen in your adult life.
Specifically, taking actions will build hope. Develop goals that are achievable, create strategies and methods to achieve those goals, and motivate yourself to do the work necessary to accomplish those goals.
I offer you 5 ways to build hope in difficult/uncertain times:
1. Make a difference:
Reach out beyond your everyday life, join a cause, volunteer with an organization or reach out to someone you know is lonely or in need. We get hope by giving hope. When we give to others it activates the part of out brain that activates dopamine and oxytocin, brain chemicals that cause feelings well being.
2. Express love in a concrete way:
Say kind words to a stranger, write notes, express gratitude. When you are out shopping, go to a restaurant, or receive any kind of service, say thank you. It adds warmth and energy to your life and creates a positive, hopeful spirit.
3. Treat each day as a precious gift:
Look for the good in each day. Find people to appreciate. No matter how difficult the day, there is something you can find that is good and positive.
4. Limit the time you spend watching the news and reading social media:
More is not better when it comes to knowing what is happening in the world. Too much news is overwhelming, and increases anxiety and depression. Consider having one day a week of “news fasting.” Anything you miss will be there tomorrow.
5. Go outside and connect with nature:
In the 1960s, the term “tree-hugger” was used for someone who found nature meaningful. These people would actually hugs tree. Try it. See how it feels. Nature is an immovable source of strength.
Try these suggestions for a day. Pay close attention, make notes and see for yourself the power you have to create hope for yourself and others.
Is nothing you're doing helping you to feel hope? Call me, I can help you find hope in your life. 919--881-2001