Let Your Hopes, Not Your Hurts, Shape Your Future – (Robert H. Schuller)
One of our greatest gifts is HOPE, for with it, all things are possible. Without it, nothing is possible. The survival of Nelson Mandela and victory of Mahatma Gandhi are dramatic examples of the power of hope. Despite their ordeals, both nurtured hope in their hearts, and in return hope sustained them.
Before continuing, let me define hope. It is the feeling that we will eventually get what we want or need.Or that in the long run everything will turn out for the best, even if the final outcome is not what we want at this time. Hope requires faith and trust in life, oneself, and others, and is the opposite of fear, anxiety, and despair. It also leads to positive expectations.
What do you believe the future holds in store for you? Do you expect it to be bright or gloomy? Regardless of your expectation, you may be right or you may be wrong. Since you cannot predict the future, you can only take a guess. Although we cannot know the future, we can predict the outcome of your guess. For if you believe your future will be gloomy, you will become anxious, unhappy, and less motivated. On the other hand, if you expect a bright future, you will be confident, enthusiastic, and happy.
As we cannot predict the future, we can only guess at the outcome. And that guess is a choice we make. Choosing to be hopeful is practical because it will free us of unnecessary suffering. And even if our guess turns out to be wrong and disaster strikes, we will be much better prepared to deal with it. For those who expect a tragedy grow so weary that by the time it comes they are completely drained of energy and incapable of taking constructive action.
To deliberately choose despair over hope is foolhardy. Moreover, hope not only makes our journey much more pleasant, but may even guarantee our success. Especially when it is combined with action. That is, besides expecting a successful outcome, do everything in your power to make it happen and look for evidence that you are approaching your goal. At the same time, stop doing whatever is counterproductive. When you combine the power of hope with that of action, you will have good reason to H.ave O.nly P.ositive E.xpectations (H.O.P.E.).
Are dark clouds looming over your life? If so, it doesn’t necessarily follow that a storm is approaching. However, even if today were to be your darkest day, the tempest will pass if you wait it out. That’s why you must keep the flame of hope burning in your heart. Storms may rage, but don’t let them extinguish hope.
While in his fifties, Tom had a heart attack. He looked death in the face for the first time and found the experience depressing. He grew lethargic and life came to a halt. It was almost as if he were already dead. But with a little encouragement, he rekindled the flame of hope, hope for a better life, for a return to normal. So, re-energized, he stopped smoking, changed his eating habits, and exercised regularly. Today, Tom is once again enjoying life.
Doesn’t this simple example prove that hope is always a better choice than despair? Charles Sawyer thinks so, for he wrote, “Of all the forces that make for a better world, none is so indispensable, none so powerful, as hope. Without hope men are only half alive. With hope they dream and think and work.” John Johnson also makes a powerful comment: “Men and women are limited not by the place of their birth, not by the color of their skin, but by the size of their hope.” Also, Charles Kingsley adds, “The men whom I have seen succeed best in life always have been cheerful and hopeful men; who went about their business with a smile on their faces; and took the changes and chances of this mortal life like men; facing rough and smooth alike as it came.”
Another Example: John F. Kennedy
In August 1943, torpedo boat PT-109 was rammed and cut in half by a Japanese destroyer during a night attack in the Solomon Islands. The commander of the boat, John F. Kennedy, was thrown to the deck. His back, previously injured in a university football game, was re-injured. Despite this, he gathered the ten surviving members of his crew. After placing a badly injured crew member into a life jacket, Kennedy held on to one of the straps with his teeth and towed the wounded man as they all swam for shore. Five hours later, they reached land and were able to rest, but could find no help. It was only after swimming to two other islands that they found natives with access to the U.S. base. They were rescued after a native delivered a message written by Kennedy on a coconut. The situation seemed hopeless, but because Kennedy clung onto hope he found the strength to lead his crew members to safety.
The Many Benefits of Hope
1. The difference between living with hope and living in fear is like the difference between the life of a hero and the life of a coward. Those who live in fear, refuse to take risks, and wind up settling for a life of mediocrity. But those who live with hope, boldly go where their dreams take them, and experience a life of adventure. Is there any question which is the superior choice? I think you will agree that Marion Zimmer Bradley makes a lot of sense when she writes, “It has never been, and never will be, easy work! But the road that is built in hope is more pleasant to the traveler than the road built in despair, even though they both lead to the same destination.”
2. Life is synonymous with change. So, any pain or fear that I am experiencing will end, which is a cause to be hopeful. President John F. Kennedy put it this way, “Every area of trouble gives out a ray of hope, and the one unchangeable certainty is that nothing is certain or unchangeable.” Jean Kerr shares the same thought in simpler terms, “Hope is the feeling you have that the feeling you have isn’t permanent.”
3. To live with hope is to be awake or, in the words of Aristotle, “Hope is the dream of a waking man.” On the other hand, “To live without hope is to cease to live.” (Fyodor Dostoevsky, And, according to the Old Testament, “Anyone who is among the living has hope — even a live dog is better off than a dead lion!”
One cannot, in my opinion, be awake or aware and not be hopeful and joyful, for as Osho (Rajneesh) said, “… ignorance means the capacity to ignore. You must be ignoring the birds, the trees, the flowers, the people. Otherwise, life is tremendously beautiful, so absurdly beautiful, that if you can see it as it is you will never stop laughing. You will go on giggling — at least inside.”
4. Hope sustains us. It provides us with the strength to look for solutions and do whatever is possible or accept what cannot be changed. It helps us to weather the storm in a sea of uncertainty, and its optimism acts as a self-fulfilling prophecy, washing away problems.
5. “Hope is the best possession. None are completely wretched but those who are without hope.” (William Hazlitt) Once we live with hope, we will be in a position to give it away to others. There’s hardly anything better that we can do for others.
6. Hope is the fuel for action. When we are filled with hope we have a reason to act. But “No hope, no action.” (Peter Levi)
7. Hope is the star that points the way to the path to growth, for we grow not by darting from pleasure to pleasure, but from hope to hope.
8. “He who does not hope to win has already lost.” (Jose Joaquin Olmedo) Those who live with hope win because “The hopeful man sees success where others see failure, sunshine where others see shadows and storm.” (Orison Swett Marden)
9. Patience is a key to success and only the hopeful are patient.
I’m sure you agree with Anne Frank who wrote in her diary, “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” No, we need not wait to give away the gift of hope. And when we do so, we are performing a valuable service, for hope and patience are two cures for all that ails us. But before we can give hope to others, we have to have it ourselves. So, how do we cultivate hope?
1.Eat balanced meals, drink plenty of water, get sufficient sleep, and exercise regularly. Poor health leads to burnout and energy depletion. Sound physical health is a key component of sound mental and emotional health.
2.Eliminate negative self-talk by focusing on the positive.
3.Have high expectations.It’s not what you deserve that counts, but what you expect.
4.Forget the past and focus on the future. You don’t make progress while you’re looking back.
5.Building on your strengths is more important than improving your weaknesses.
6.View ‘problems’ as challenges and look for solutions rather than reasons to quit.
7.If you get stuck, look for help.
8.Persist. Keep at it until you succeed.
Both hopeand hopelessness can be learned. To learn how to be hopeful, follow these steps.
1.Set goals to have something to be excited about. Stretch yourself, but don’t overreach.
2.Make a plan, listing all the steps you need to take to reach your goal.
3. Work your plan. That is, set target dates for each step and follow through.
4. Persist. Don’t stop working at it until you reach your goal.
Ask yourself, and act upon, the following questions:
What excites me?
What might be?
How can it be?
What will be?
What is already working and how can I build on it?
Additional Steps and Considerations
1. We need to act in spite of our fears. After all, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.” (James Neil Hollingworth)
2. Launch your hope with dreams for the future. ”To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe.” (Anatole France) And “Where there is no vision, there is no hope.” (George Washington Carver).
3. Do you find yourself less than happy because you are hoping for more possessions? If so, it’s time to reflect on the hopes and dreams of millions of less fortunate people around the globe.
They are hoping to eat tomorrow, dreaming of a pair of shoes to help them navigate their rocky terrain, praying for clothing to protect them from the cold, wishing for shelter from the torrential rain or oppressive heat, and pleading for their lives in countries at war. If they find it difficult to be hopeful, they can be excused, but if you’re having a problem remaining hopeful, you need to count your blessings.Don’t hope to receive much more than you already have, but hope to be much more grateful for what you now have.
4. Don’t hope your problems grow smaller; hope YOU grow stronger.
5. A sure way to sustain hope is by taking care of today. Just follow the directions in this poem by Kālidāsa, “Yesterday is but a dream,Tomorrow is only a vision. But today well lived makes every yesterday a dream of happiness, and every tomorrow a vision of hope.” Carrie ten Bloom also writes about the importance of today, “Worry does not empty tomorrow of sorrow — it empties today of strength.”
6. St. Francis of Assisi offers this advice for developing hope: a) “Start by doing what’s necessary b) then do what’s possible c) and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”
7. Hope and self-esteem. Hope is closely linked with self-esteem because the two pillars of self-esteem are belief in one’s ability to cope with the challenges of life and that one deserves success. We boost our capacity for hope whenever we improve our self-esteem. To learn how to do so, read this excellent guidebook, Restore Your Magnificence: A Life-Changing Guide to Reclaiming Your Self-Esteem by Dr. Joe Rubino,
8. Support Groups. If you are finding it difficult to cope with mental or physical health problems, the death of a loved one, or any catastrophe, you can find hope in support groups. If there aren’t any in your area, or you cannot attend one, try an online support group. Two examples are: Daily Strength and Open to Hope.
9. Self-Study. Before you give up hope, check your library, a bookstore, or the Internet for the inspiring biographies of countless men and women who relentlessly pursued their dreams in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles and went on to become victorious.
10. Inspiring Videos. Feed your spirit with inspirational videos. You can start here.
11. Direct your attention on the positive. Focus on what you can do, not what you can’t do. Dwell on your hopes, not your hurts.
12. Open your heart and release your love. When you do so, you offer others hope. This video may inspire you.
Caveats and Tips
1. Hope is a decision or choice we make. We decide to trust life. Because of the inspiring deeds of men and women throughout history, we realize that we have the inner resources to cope with whatever comes our way. Armed with this knowledge, we are filled with hope.
2. “Hope sees the invisible, feels the intangible, and achieves the impossible.” (Charles Caleb Colton) It gives us the courage to go on because of the belief that somehow we will get through the difficulty we face.
3.Dare to dream. But it may be wise to balance your dream with realism. For example, if you are a talented writer and a horrible singer, it doesn’t mean you cannot learn how to sing. But if you worked on the talent you already have, you may develop into a great writer. Whereas if you focus on singing, you may become a mediocre singer at best. Here’s how Joseph Addison put it, “If we hope for what we are not likely to possess, we act and think in vain and make life a greater dream and shadow than it really is.”
4. Living with hope is not about living with vapid wishes. Rather it is living with confidence in the future because one is already doing everything possible to make success a likely outcome.
5.Be hopeful, but don’t be unprepared for a temporary defeat. That is, “Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.” (English Proverb) And “Hope for a miracle, but don’t depend on one.” (The Talmud)
6. Do you remember the pain you suffered in the past that you now look back on as “the good old days”? Hope is remembering that all problems pass. In other words, it is the recognition that all ‘failures’ are temporary setbacks and patience is called for. Here is how anotherexpressed this idea:“Many of the great achievements of the world were accomplished by tired and discouraged men who kept on working.” (Hermione Granger)
7.There is a linkbetweengratitude and hope, While gratefulness looks back in thanks,hope looks forward with expectation. In a word, the more you are grateful for what you have, the more you will have to be grateful for.
8. Hope is a catalyst. “Hope is a vigorous principle… it sets the head and heart to work, and animates a man to do his utmost.” (Jeremy Collier) Also, “Hope arouses, as nothing else can arouse, a passion for the possible.” (William Sloan Coffin)
9. When you set sail, you unfurl more than one sail, likewise set many goals and have multiple expectations.
10. “Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.” (Vaclav Havel)
11. “The very least you can do in your life is to figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under its roof.” (Barbara Kingsolver)
12. Because of the knowledge of our mortality, courage and hope are necessary for a fulfilling life.
13. “Hope works in these ways: it looks for the good in people instead of harping on the worst; it discovers what can be done instead of grumbling about what cannot; it regards problems, large or small, as opportunities; it pushes ahead when it would be easy to quit; it ‘lights the candle’ instead of ‘cursing the darkness.’” (Author Unknown)
14. Remember that things will either improve or you will grow stronger as you wait for them to improve.
Some Acronyms for Hope
H.ang O.n, P.ain E.nds
H.elp O.ther P.eople E.xcel
H.elp O.pen P.eople’s E.yes
H.eart O.pen, P.lease E.nter (Alcoholics Anonymous)
H.e O.ffers P.eace E.ternally
H.old O.nto P.rayer E.veryday
H.elp O.ther P.eople E.veryday
H.eal O.ther P.eople E.verywhere
H.ave O.nly P.ositive E.xpectations
H.elping O.ur P.eople in E.mergencies
H.elping O.ther P.eople E.nthusiastically
H.eroism O.ptimism P.atience E.nthusiasm
We have grounds for hope because we live in a world of infinite potential and possibility. Let’s rejoice in that and in the facts that faith makes all things possible;love makes all things easy;hope makes all things work, and family makes life worth living.
Most of All, They Taught Me Happiness by Robert Muller
Making Hope Happen: Create the Future You Want for Yourself and Others by Shane J. Lopez Ph.D.
Let Hope in: 4 Choices That Will Change Your Life Forever by Pete Wilson