The Mind Loops Blog – Nov 2020
Hope? What is that? When life feels so stressful and uncertain, hope can appear like some faint memory, or a fantasy creature from a fairytale.
Especially these days. It seems like every waking moment our world twists and turns down a new, dark path. We’ve experienced catastrophic fires from Australia to California, hurricanes that have wreaked havoc, political chaos that has left a nation divided, and a global pandemic with unimaginable losses.
People say, “Have hope! Get hope!” as if it’s something you can buy on Amazon. If only it was that easy. Instead, hope is something you create and cultivate. Using your mind to reframe and/or redirect your focus, you can create a glimmer of hope; at that point you grab onto it and feed the little shred with positive thoughts. Eventually hope will grow, and become easier to hold onto.
Why should you spend the time and energy to cultivate hope?
- lifts your mood
- eases your nervous system
- allows a smile to form even when shadows loom
- inspires motivation for the future
- helps foster a sense of meaning and purpose in your life
- and studies show it improves even physical health.
Basically, hope helps you locate the surface when it feels like you’re drowning. So when the world feels as dark as it does these days, how do you create and cultivate this wonderful feeling of hope?
Here are 3 tips.
1) Keep Perspective
There is enough doubt and uncertainty going around to sink a ship right now. And yet, despite all the chaos going on, you’re still waking up every day, you still have food in your cupboard, you’re breathing, and there’s a roof over your head.
And positive things are still taking place. But they’re not the stories that get the fancy graphics and hype that negative stories get on cable news. The human brain is literally geared toward the negative – and news stations know this. Negative news sells more advertising and gains more viewers. So we have to actively search for the good news. Sad but true. The fact is, good things are going on out there – even when the world feels like such a mess.
This is a good time to repeat to yourself, “One day at a time” – or even, “One hour at a time,” on those really hard days. It’ll help you keep perspective.
2) It’s Not the End of the Story
When our nation seems to be in the darkest of places – with the chaotic election, divisiveness, pandemic, and all the rest, it’s important to remember that, as somber as it is, it’s not the end of the story. What we’re seeing and experiencing right now does not dictate the future.
Even though it’s easy to fall into one of the most debilitating Mind Loop traps of them all – predicting worst-case-scenarios – the fact is, we have no idea what’s around the corner. Keeping this in mind opens a door for hope to enter.
Think of times in your life you’ve struggled with – and overcome – adversity. You may have handled situations much more difficult than what you’re facing today. You are strong, my friend. It may be rough for a while, but the story is not over. And you’ll figure out what to do.
3) Share Hope (no matter how small)
This week is a hard one for many of us, including me. One of the days I was feeling down, I was outside a Starbucks, and one of my favorite dogs arrived. Kate, the “smiling” golden lab, was tied up outside while the owners went in to sip coffee and play chess. I chatted with Kate and pet her and her tail wagged and wagged.
Before I left, I went inside and asked the owners if I could give Kate some whipped cream? (Starbucks gives you a little cup of it for dogs). They said yes, and I brought it to her. She was thrilled! To see her sweet face light up and lick that cup clean lifted my spirits so much. Kate knows nothing about the pandemic and the election and terrorists and climate fires. I shared hope with her (in the form of whipped cream), and she shared hope with me – in the form of affection, joy of being in the moment, and gratitude.
Small acts of kindness not only lift the other person (or creature), but their joy then radiates back to you – like a hope-joy boomerang. It connects you with others and instills a feeling of positive contribution.
Even reading about or watching someone else perform an act of kindness can have a positive affect. There are tons of “random acts of kindness” videos on Youtube. I watched this one today and felt a lot better about the world.
Hope is easily lost when we’re drowning in negative thoughts and when the world around us seems to be falling to pieces. It’s in these moments in particular, when we feel lost and low, that creating and cultivating a sense of hope is most important.
Wishing you a hope-filled week ahead.
To your happiness,
PS: Check out my book How To Stop Negative Thoughts for specific steps to interrupt repetitive, negative thoughts; it’s SO MUCH easier to create hope when the looping is eased up! And/or get the “10 Ways To Stop Negative Thinking” for free here.
Author of the #1 Amazon Kindle Bestseller, How To Stop Negative Thoughts
Contributing author of the #1 Amazon Bestseller, The Transformative Power of Near-Death Experiences