In the past few weeks, I’ve been working with my team to move forward with our primary fundraising social enterprise, but also with the other brands. Sure, these are uncertain times, but candidly, when is life certain? I have instructed my team that I want to give hope meaning across all of our brands. And, that also means never to say “new normal.” We don’t know what “normal” means, nor how things will unfold. Nevertheless, as humans, our motivation for moving forward remains hope. So, that’s what I want to make sure we spread at a time of heightened ambivalence.
When I was a kid, I’ve said it often, I was unsure of myself. For a certain period, my days were wrapped in self-doubt. However, through the caring of an exceptional teacher in my life, that doubt started to fall away. And by the time I became the president of shoe manufacturing company, I was mentally strong and full of hope for the future. In other words, what I learned as I grew and developed personally and professionally was that to keep moving forward—positively—you have to get familiar with the meaning of hope. We all have to internalize the message that we matter and can do anything.
My Story to Give Hope Meaning
There’s no doubt that people are suffering this year with losses in their lives. And I don’t want to minimize it. But, what I do want to say is that perspective is everything. And, one of the best things you can do for yourself when the world feels as if it’s upside down is to give hope meaning in your life. So, how do you do that? I think it’s different for everyone, and I’ll share some examples from my experiences.
For me, one of the most significant times in my life where I worked to give hope meaning came at a time of devastation. After the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, I remember there was a sense of collective quiet. What I mean by that is that the world watched in shock and awe at a natural disaster of biblical proportions. At the time, people in the affected lost everything they had—loved ones, jobs, homes, and everything they owned. It was a disaster of epic proportions, which was profound for the global population, and it was then that the idea to give hope meaning became a big part of my waking hours.
At the time, I was a shoe manufacturing executive, but I also understood that a great many people were in need. In other words, after such a devastating loss, they needed to rebuild their communities. By rebuilding, people will inevitably give hope meaning in their lives. And, that’s one of the reasons my team and that of many colleagues, started on a path to help, which took a life of its own.
How You Can Grow Hope in Your Life
The reality is that the idea of hope is different for everyone, but despite it looking different, it’s essential and makes challenging situations more manageable. However, by developing your “hope muscles,” and changing your perspective, any situation can become much easier to bear. So, how can you grow the meaning of hope and develop your internal hope muscles to ease the burdens you may carry.
1) Give hope meaning by choosing your perspective
I think that the first thing you have to do to understand the meaning of hope in your life is that you have to become clear in your mind that you choose your thoughts. Choosing perspective takes balance and practice. As noted in an article in Psychology Today, “Every person is divided between a healthy attitude toward themselves that is goal-directed and life-affirming and a destructive side of themselves that can be self-critical, self-denying, paranoid and suspicious.” For me, the words “life-affirming” is the essence of hope. And so you have to ask yourself, are the thoughts you choose “life-affirming”?
2) Be reflective and curious about the world and others
Another element necessary to give hope, meaning in your life requires internal self-reflection. But, that too has to get balanced with looking outward and being curious about the world around you. What I mean by this is you have to check-in with yourself every day to assess how you’re doing in thoughts and actions. Are you trying to be optimistic? Are you trying to choose ideas that are not self-destructive? The answers to these questions matter for your hope muscles. Further, are you taking the time to go beyond yourself to support others and understand their situations and stories?
3) Share your gifts with others to give hope meaning
Finally, one of the essential activities you have to do to give hope meaning in your life is to share your gifts with others. Unfortunately, many people often think they don’t have anything to offer. But, that’s not accurate, and again, it’s a matter of perspective. You can give of your time to nonprofits, which happen to be in great need at the moment. Also, you can take the time to call seniors or people living alone who don’t have many other people in their lives. If nothing else, many of us have been reminded of how important it is to connect with others, and it can be by calling, video conferencing, or sharing the same space.
The reality is that giving hope meaning in your life is essential for creativity and thinking. No matter the situation you face at any given time, if you nurture hope in your life, the chances increase that things will turn out okay—even if it takes time and requires sacrifices. That’s because your mind is the most potent “muscle,” and when it’s fueled by hope, anything is possible. And, ultimately, with a substantial reserve of hope your circumstances may change you, take you down different paths you never imagined, but they will not break you.
© 2020 Wayne Elsey and Not Your Father’s Charity. All Rights Reserved.