In Greek mythology, Pandora, the first woman on earth, was entrusted with a box containing all the evils of the world. Her curiosity caused her to open the box and allowed all the evils free. However, at the bottom of the box there remained a single gift to the world to counter all the evils.
That gift was hope.
Hope is such a rich and vital concept that it is difficult even to define what it is. Here is the most elegant and simple definition of hope that I have seen:
Hope: Desire of something, together with the expectation of obtaining it.
Hope is not just the idea that things can get better; it is the idea that things WILL get better.
This is a beautiful, powerful concept that helps us all in our struggles. Hope is the anecdote to doubt, isolation, grief, stress, conflict and ambivalence. Hope alone is not enough to turn the tide from problems to solutions, but without it, that change cannot occur.
Whether the holiday that you celebrate is Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or simply the winter solstice, your celebration is one of hope. Hope is the common ingredient in each of the celebrations at this time of year.
When the winter is darkest, when the storms are the strongest or when the turmoil in your soul is at its worst, there is always hope.
Hope is created by our thought processes and is not created by circumstances. It is also not prevented by circumstances.
Many of us know folks who have remained strong through tough times and have been able to tap the place inside themselves where hope is born. It is encouraging to me, even hopeful (just a little irony here) that we all have the ability in us to maintain hope by changing our thought patterns.
There are three aspects to any situation that can improve your access to hope.
- Presence of support. When you hear the words “We’ll figure this out together” or the simple “I believe in you”, there is the immediate sensation that this person is right – there is hope.
- Breaking the silence. Hope grows when you find your voice and say out loud the things that you believe in. Until this happens, it is easy for the doubts to creep into your thinking. Stating your thinking for others to hear somehow makes it more real, more true and more hopeful.
- Having faith. Here is another definition of hope – “Hope is the ability to connect with the part of ourselves that knows the bigger picture, believes in growth and life, and feels a connection to that force in the world.” This makes it obvious that hope is increased by your ability to connect with your faith.
The rewards of hope are more than chasing away the darkness in life.
Hope brings a sense of connection – both to other people and to the environment.
Hope allows us to open to the world in important ways that allow our lives to be richer and more fulfilled.
Hope can give us a sense of purpose even when we do not understand the details of every event.
Hope may be one of the most powerful needs of every human.
I hope that I am giving you food for thought as you move through your holiday season. Perhaps you will give voice to your beliefs or reach out and give the gift of hope to another person.
Try to give hope through simple acknowledgment of another person. Acknowledge his or her efforts, changes, choices and strengths. Say out loud what you see and watch the light of hope touch both of your lives.
What other ways do you have to build hope into your holiday celebrations? Please let us know how you have hope by sharing your thoughts in the comments.
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