How do you stay hopeful in difficult times? What makes a person hopeful? Here are 24 ways to bring you hope to stay positive in life.
Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all the darkness. When we think about what hope there is in the world, it can be easy for us to think there is none. Life has its ups and downs and sometimes it brings more slumps.
Unemployment, sickness, financial struggles, loss: we all experience hardship at one point or another. In times of overwhelming uncertainty and struggle, it’s natural to feel discouraged.
But life doesn’t have to be a hopeless situation. In those stages, the most successful and happy people know where to uncover hope.
The history of humankind has shown us that despite hard times, we can find a renewal of optimism and move forward with greater joy than ever before.
You can try experiencing some hopefulness by being encouraged and inspired to believe that the world can get better and your life can be more joyful today.
But having hope and doing your best to say positive can see you through seemingly impossible situations. Research has shown that people who are hopeful often cope more effectively with obstacles, while more pessimistic individuals tend to shut down.
So ask yourself: What brings you hope?
What is hope?
According to thedailymeditation.com, “To be hopeful is to look on the future positively, to see opportunity in challenges (rather than challenges in opportunities), to look on the bright side of life.” Hope is an optimistic state of mind based on an expectation of positive outcomes related to events and circumstances in one’s life or the world at large. As a verb, its definitions include: “expect with confidence” and “to cherish a desire with anticipation.”
As summarized by Psychology Today: “In 1991, the eminent positive psychologist Charles R. Snyder and his colleagues came up with Hope Theory. The person who has hope has the will and determination that goals will be achieved, and a set of different strategies at their disposal to reach their goals. ”
Why is hope important?
As summarized in this article, hope:
- Motivates positive actions that will lead to positive results
- Is a natural stress reliever
- Helps strengthen the immune system
- Improves social relationships (you’ll get more friend being an optimist)
- Makes you happy
- Broadens and builds your mind
Did you know that feeling hope can actually be good for your body? Hope causes your brain to release endorphins which creates a similar effect as morphine.
Independent Scholar Terry Smalls argues that when you experience that effect, you’re more able to overcome difficulties in your life.
He suggests one of the best ways we can create a sense of hope is through positive stories.
You can take time to read these inspirational comeback stories start jumpstarting your hopefulness again.
Research, as summarized in Psychology Today, confirms hope is related to positive outcomes. Studies show that hope is related to academic achievement and professional success.
Hope allows people to approach problems with a mindset and strategy-set suitable to success, thereby increasing the chances they will accomplish their goals.
Living a hopeful life is to recognize that everything and everyone matters. That includes you since you are part of the hopefulness in the world. Taking care of yourself matters. The quality of the work you do matters. It matters how you are treated and how you treat others.
In order to be an effective part of a hopeful world there are certain things that you need to do regularly:
- conduct a hope audit of your life. How are you doing? in health, work, relationships?
- take good care of your health.
- have a stress reduction strategy. Meditation, breathing exercises, physical exercise and favorite forms of recreation all reduce stress. Being in nature does as well.
- create hopeful relationships. Learn to forgive. Develop a daily journal writing habit if it helps you to let go of negative experiences and emotions.
- help others see the best in themselves, notice their desire to make meaningful contributions and help them find their path to becoming hopemakers for themselves and others.
How do you stay hopeful in difficult times?
Inevitably, life has its ups and downs. Hope carries us through. The most successful and happy people know where to find hope. What brings you hope? Know and nurture it.
- Pause and reflect on past success
- Talk to hopeful people
- Express Gratitude
- Be Kind
- Take Care of Yourself
- Have Goals
- Ask for Help
- Engage in Meaningful Action
- Believe you can achieve your goals
- Practice prayer or meditation
- Use uncertainty as a tool
- Focus on the positive
- Be creative
- Find humor
- Have social support
- Come up with a clear path
- Find role models who’ve found solutions to your problems
- Do what you can
- Try some mindfulness
- Lean on your faith
- Read positive news and limit your Bad News intake
- Watch some motivational videos
- Chase your dreams
- Make small progress
What brings you, Hope?
Now that you know what hope is and why it’s important to find it, here are some different ways you can rediscover it in your life again.
1. Pause and reflect on past success
When you feel yourself getting caught up with the rollercoaster of life it is easy to feel like things are spinning out of control. Every negative scenario fills your mind and you end up losing all sense of perspective. In these moments, just pause for a minute, take a breath and reflect on what your next steps will be. Taking time to press pause is sometimes the best action you can take to find that spirit of hope again.
Research from The Journal of Positive Psychology found that when people wrote about past experiences where something they hoped for came true, their hope and happiness increased.
Take time to reflect on the things that have gone well for you in your recent and distant past. It can remind you that things haven’t always been bad and that they can always be good again.
2. Talk to hopeful people
Most of us know at least one person who can persistently see the bright side of life. And it is also true to say we know some people who leave us feeling drained too! Making a video or phone call to someone you care about might just be the thing you need to bring a dose of much-needed encouragement. Even when we can’t meet others face to face, we can still choose who we spend our time with. When you engage in any community, on or offline, you need to ask yourself questions like “Does this person or group make me feel more or less hopeful?
3. Express Gratitude
No matter how hard things get there is always something to be grateful for. Listing what you’re thankful for may seem difficult when you’re struggling. But there’s always something to be thankful for. Whether it’s your health, your family, or even the sky above, take strength from that which is good and solid. It is possible to catch a glimmer of hope from unexpected places. What can you see around you that you are thankful for? Who are you most appreciative to have in your life? Practicing gratitude makes you better equipped to handle what comes your way with a hopeful spirit.
4. Be Kind
Kindness not only feels good, but it is also good for you. Believe it or not, performing kind actions for others can improve your outlook on life and boost your mood.
Performing good deeds for others takes your mind off of your troubles and fosters relationships with those around you and in your community. You may even make a difference for someone else who is struggling. This could be as simple as sharing hopeful thoughts and quotes on Facebook or Instagram.
You can look into organizations like The World Kindness Movement to inspire you to be kinder.
5. Take Care of Yourself
Get sleep, eat right, and do indoor activities that restore balance. When you feel stressed or overwhelmed, take breaks and engage in self-care. You can’t foster hope if your body is spent and your mind is failing.
6. Have Goalsn the positive 13. Be creative 14. Find humor
Think of something you’d like to work towards. Big or small, it doesn’t matter, as long as it’s meaningful and gives you a sense of purpose. Having a tangible goal will help you get up and face the day, even when all seems pointless. As Friedrich Nietzsche once wrote, “He who has a why to live for can bear almost anyhow.”
7. Ask for Help
Asking for assistance can be scary, but it can also make a world of difference. You may be surprised at the solutions and ideas others can provide. Even if they don’t have the answers, they can give you the help and support you need to make it through a rough time.
8. Engage in Meaningful Action
You can’t control everything, but you can control some things. The antidote to despair and anxiety is action. Focus on the things that you can change for the better, no matter how small. Work with what you have one step at a time.
People survive and thrive in all sorts of scenarios, they always have. Take inspiration, knowing that this too shall pass.
9. Believe you can achieve your goals
A study found that having hope is generally associated with agency thinking. Agency thinking is defined as the motivation to pursue goals and the belief in one’s ability to achieve them.
So basically, you can create hope within yourself by giving yourself motivation for pursuing your goals and believing you can accomplish them.
10. Practice prayer or meditation
A Wall Street Journal Article on The Science of Prayer points out that scientists have discovered prayer helps to give people a hopeful feeling.
Similarly, science has shown meditation can help make you happier and thus allow you to feel more hopeful feelings.
If you haven’t tried it as much lately, take time to pray or meditate to increase your hope.
11. Use uncertainty as a tool
Feeling uncertain about the future doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing. In fact, it may be just the thing to bring about more hopefulness.
Parents of children with multiple sclerosis used the fact that not much is known about the disease to give them hope their child may have been misdiagnosed and could fully recover.
If individuals in such a difficult and uncertain situation can manage to harness hope out of it, we can too. We may not know what the future holds, but the beauty of not knowing is that it leaves open the possibility that something good could happen.
12. Focus on the positive
Those who have hope and optimism in life usually look for positive images more than negative ones. It’s important to be mindful of the media we consume at all times.
If you constantly look at images of people who are sad, you’re likely going to feel sad. But if you consistently look at images of people who are happy, you’ll likely feel happier and more hopeful.
We can still acknowledge the difficulty of our situation in the world around us while still living with hope. One way to do this is to actively think of what you can look forward to beyond your present situation. What does a positive future look like for you when you find your breakthrough? Where could you travel to as an exciting destination? What kind of book could you write? What about getting that dream job or even starting a business? Thinking about a future vision always inspires hope and reminds you there is another chapter still to come.
“It seems to me, we have a lot of stories left to tell.” – Walt Disney
13. Be creative
Believe it or not, creativity is actually linked to having hope. Researchers concluded that composite hope accurately predicted the creativity of an employee.
But why is creativity is associated with hope? Some believe it’s because people who are creative have a belief there’s more than one way to achieve one’s desires.
A willingness to be open to multiple different possibilities of making something work can help you to feel more hopeful about your circumstances.
14. Find humor
A Texas A&M University study concluded that humor may be effective in significantly increasing a person’s level of hope.
When participants watched a 15-minute comedy video, their score of hopefulness increased significantly higher than those who didn’t watch.
Sometimes you just need to find something to laugh at to lighten your emotions and allow yourself to feel hope again.
15. Have social support
Science has proven that keeping a community of support around you can help develop and maintain hope in your circumstances.
One study found that parents maintained hope by avoiding people who were negative towards them seeking a positive end.
Another study on hope among people trying to bring change in society was able to feel hopeful through being connected with their community.
16. Come up with a clear path
We all need some kind of understanding that the steps we’re taking are ones that can lead to the change we desire. Knowing that helps to give us hope things will get better.
It’ll be difficult to feel motivated to stick to your goals if you’re unable to logically see how the steps you’re taking can lead to a positive outcome.
Start writing down actions you need to start taking days to get your life together.
17. Find role models who’ve found solutions to your problems
In the history of human existence, hundreds, thousands, and perhaps millions of people have found ways to overcome extreme adversity.
Look for stories of people who got through the challenges you’re dealing with. Find a support group where people can give you encouragement which will help to increase your hope.
If you’re having issues with your mental well-being, here’s some information on where you can find support groups.
You might also enjoy visiting Project Hope Exchange. They have a page where you’ll find people who have recorded times they overcame adversity related to life challenges and mental challenges.
18. Do what you can
A good way to break your sense of powerlessness is to do something outside of your normal routine.
You can cook dinner, talk to friends, or just simply make your bed. You can take steps that are easy for you to do and see how the actions improve your life.
Once you start successfully doing one thing consistently, it’ll help to build up the confidence to do more things.
19. Try some mindfulness
Our thoughts tend to focus on the past things that were painful or didn’t work out. We also worry about the future at times too.
These mental habits will only create more hopelessness in your life. When we feel down in life, it’s difficult for us to focus on positive events or remember times when we were once happy.
Put your attention towards the present moment of what you’re feeling. Focus on your breath and all the sensations of your body.
Here are some free online mindfulness courses that can help you out.
20. Lean on your faith
Faith has helped people to have hope throughout human history. Trusting a higher power is helping you can give you a sense that you’re not alone.
In moments you find yourself doubting or questioning your beliefs, find a member of your faith whom you respect and talk with them.
It might help to resolve any doubts you have and give you more hope.
21. Read positive news and limit your Bad News intake
Every day is full of both good and bad reports, but it is the bad news that seems to travel faster. When you’re constantly draining yourself with all the bad news in the world, you make it harder to feel hopeful. No matter how much bad stuff is happening now, there’s always some good happening in the world that can inspire us.
In fact, there are plenty of websites out there that only share those types of good news stories.
Here’s one example. U.S. Marshalls announced they found 39 children who had gone missing in an operation known as “Operation Not Forgotten”.
So often when a child goes missing, it’s hard to find them again or it usually ends in tragedy.
The fact that 39 were found again is almost a miracle. Great things like this happen every day, and you can be inspired to have hope that great things will happen in your life too.
Here’s where you can find more good news stories.
Be careful not to excessively watch, listen to, or engage with media that makes you feel hopeless and fearful. Create a challenge today to deliberately look for hope in the news and see what difference it makes.
22. Watch some motivational videos
Sometimes hearing a motivating voice or seeing a motivational story can help us to feel more hope in life.
From time to time, I used to like watching videos by motivational speakers like Les Brown or Zig Ziglar.
If motivational speakers aren’t your thing, another motivational video I’ve enjoyed watching often is one on famous failures.
Find a video based on your interests that can motivate you. Maybe there’s one on a successful football player or one on a successful fashion designer.
The more a video can personally relate to you, the more it can motivate you and give you a sense of optimism for the future.
23. Chase your dreams
When you’re chasing after dreams, it can fill you with the hope that one day you’ll make those dreams happen.
I’ve had dreams of being a successful songwriter, and I still have hope that maybe someday I’ll write a song that’s enjoyed all over the world.
What are your dreams in life? Maybe now’s the time to start thinking about how to go after those dreams. It could spark the hope that you’ve been looking for in life.
24. Make small progress
It’s easy to feel hope when you see yourself making progress at something. I think about the weightlifting that I’ve done regularly in the past.
Each week, I was able to lift a larger weight than I did the last week.
It made me feel hope that I’d continue to get stronger and bigger. Maybe for you, your progress could be in something that you want to get better at, such as playing the guitar or learning how to cook
If you put in the time to do those things regularly, there’s a good chance you’ll eventually make progress, and that will give you some hope that you can become really good at it.