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 Ingrid Betancourt (recently rescued from FARC captivity) are dramatic examples of the power of hope. Despite their ordeals, both nurtured hope in their hearts, and in return hope sustained them.
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. Here’s how Lin Yutang (1895 ~ 1976) expresses this idea, “Hope is like a road in the country; there was never a road, but when many people walk on it, the road comes into existence.” Also, although our personal lives are brief, the opportunities offered by life are boundless. This, too, makes us hopeful.
Why should we choose to be hopeful? Here are some reasons:
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 (1930 ~ 1999) 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 (1917 ~ 1963) 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 (1922 ~ 2003) 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 (BCE 384 ~322), “Hope is the dream of a waking man.” On the other hand, “To live without hope is to cease to live.” (Fyodor Dostoevsky, 1821 ~ 1881) 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!” (Ecclesiastes 9:4)
One cannot, in my opinion, be awake or aware and not be hopeful and joyful, for as Osho* 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.
Life is not boring, but mind is boring. And we create such a mind, such a strong mind, like a China Wall around ourselves, that it does not allow life to enter into us. It disconnects us from life. We become isolated, encapsulated, windowless … Put aside your knowledge! And then look with empty eyes … And life is a constant surprise. And I am not talking about some divine life – the ordinary life is so extraordinary. In small incidents you will find the presence of God … Miss the present and you live in boredom. Be in the present and you will be surprised that there is boredom at all.” (*Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, 1931 ~ 1990, took the name of Osho in 1989.)
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, 1778 ~ 1830) 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, 1931 ~ 2000)
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, 1780 ~ 1847) 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, 1850 ~ 1924)
9. Patience is a key to success and only the hopeful are patient.
Here are some ways to nurture hope:
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.” (Ambrose Redmoon, born James Neil Hollingworth, 1933 ~ 1996)
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, 1844 ~ 1924) And “Where there is no vision, there is no hope.” (George Washington Carver, 1864 ~ 1943).
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.
4. Don’t hope your problems grow smaller; hope YOU grow bigger.
Don’t hope to receive much more than you already have, but hope to be much more grateful for what you now have.
5. A sure way to sustain hope is by taking care of today. Just follow the directions in this Sanskrit Poem, “For yesterday is but a memory and tomorrow is only a vision; but today well lived makes every yesterday a memory of happiness and every tomorrow a vision of hope.” Carrie Ten Bloom (1892 ~ 1983) also writes about the importance of today, “Worry does not empty tomorrow of sorrow — it empties today of strength.”
6. St. Francis of Assisi (1181 ~ 1226) 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. Also, to fan the flames of H.O.P.E., just remember it stands for: Heroism, Optimism, Patience, Enthusiasm.
Before I get to my final comments, I’d like to share three more quotes on hope:
1. “Hope sees the invisible, feels the intangible, and achieves the impossible.” (Charles Caleb Colton, 1780 ~ 1832)
2. “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, b. 1955)
3. “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, b. 1936, Czech playwright, president)
Think for a moment about the men and women you admire, living and dead. A moment’s reflection will reveal that their success doesn’t stem from their gender, age, religion, or nationality.
Rather, it flows from the size of their hope. For as Thomas Fuller (1608 ~ 1661) wrote, “Great hopes make great men (and women).” You are as great as your hopes, so keep the flames burning, and feed the fire with more and bigger dreams.