By Ann Stromberg, Emotional Wellness Counselor
Hope is an emotional state that we have all experienced at one time or another. It is a trait inherent in everyone, and we all possess unique levels of hopefulness. Hope has several definitions: a feeling of expectation, the desire for a certain thing to happen, and wanting something to happen.
While we all have different levels of hope inherently, it is something we can increase with our beliefs and actions. Hope is also an important driver of positive emotion and happiness! We all need to see the future as full of potential during every stage of our lives.
Hope is a future-oriented belief system rooted in the belief that our dreams can become reality. One of the greatest times in life when hope is present is the changing of the seasons, especially winter into spring. Did you notice a positive shift in your outlook over the past week as we shed the mountains of snow and enjoyed some beautiful sunshine? It’s almost impossible not to feel a mood boost as we anticipate the onset of spring, perhaps more in 2021 than ever before!
The opportunity to head outdoors to enjoy all the beauty of spring along with the potential to socialize again naturally creates hope for our future. Being hopeful enhances our performance in all areas of life from academics and sports to career and relationships. Hope is closely related to optimism and happiness, and it’s essential in a positive mindset.
One phenomenon of the pandemic has been a loss of hopefulness due to social isolation, anxiety, and uncertainty about the future. If you have noticed that your level of hopefulness has been strained or reduced due to the events of the past year, there are strategies to help increase your hopefulness and happiness. The energy of the change of seasons is the perfect time to start! To begin to cultivate hope, you need to start with self-awareness.
Pay attention to your thoughts and ask yourself, does this belief help me? If the answer is that it does not, then take steps to change that belief and commit to it. Often just acknowledging the faulty belief is enough to make a shift. Create a list of reasons why the belief is false to help to create a new mindset for yourself. Writing a new story about our life and our life’s journey allows for the potential to create a hopeful future. Visualizing a positive future is essential for growth, along with the belief we can accomplish it. The belief we can do something creates hope and has the bonus of improving our brain health!
Growth is always good, it not always easy but it is good. Our belief that we can try something regardless of the outcome is key to maintaining a growth mindset. A boost in self-esteem occurs through our efforts to try and to work toward a goal. Honestly, is there anyone that can’t benefit from a boost in self-esteem?
To achieve change and to create a more optimistic, hopeful future also requires good self-care to maintain the incredible body and brain we are given. Movement, good nutrition, and good sleep not only help us feel better but also boost our immune system. Although creating good habits can be hard, it is so important to our well-being. There is no reason to make wellness a chore, a good balance is the 80/20 rule, which means 80% of the time you are focused on wellness you will utilize our good habits, and 20% of the time we allow for some time off without guilt.
Our mind, body, and soul are so deeply connected that when one area falls out of balance the rest falls out of balance too. It is easier to feel happy and hopeful when we feel good physically. If some of your good habits have taken a back seat during the winter, let the shift to spring be the reason to clean things up. Take advantage of the positive energy of the season to enjoy a new hopeful, optimistic way of life.
If you’re having trouble developing good habits, check out this Covid-19 Survival Guide: Habits post for inspiration.