One of my favourite book titles of all time remains Barak Obama’s autobiography – The Audacity of Hope. This is because hope is my favourite feeling/emotion, for, in my opinion, life is nothing without hope. It’s amazing what we can achieve with just a little dash of hope, for hope turns into determination, and determination can turn into growth. ‘Hope’ is, looking forward to something, we always have to look forward to something, it keeps us going. Little wonder one of my favourite scripture is part of Colossians 1:27 “Christ in you, the hope of glory,” beautiful isn’t it!
I personally believe that hope is one of the few emotions that work with all other emotions. It kind of underlies other emotions both good or bad. When you’re going through good emotions like joy, gratitude, pride, happiness, etc, you hope the feeling lingers. When the situation is reversed, hope also plays an important role. Hope is important because it can make a helpless moment less difficult to bear. It serves as a coping resource against despair. The hope that things will turn around acts as a fuel, nudging us forward.
Life, has a habit of springing up surprises every now and then, sometimes these surprises are pleasant, sometimes very unpleasant. The unpleasant experiences often leave us in despair, that’s where hope steps in. It is the wonderful feeling that despite all odds, things could actually turn in our favour. Hope comes into its own when crisis looms, opening us to new creative possibilities. It kicks us into action, giving us the motivation to pursue solutions – possibilities and opportunities. Hope drives us to work hard and persist even in the face of obstacles, setbacks, and failure. It is therefore extremely important that we have hope. For no matter what hurdles or setbacks life brings our way, none can supersede loss of hope.
Hope, according to the Oxford dictionary is a feeling of expectation of something to happen. I even like how Wikipedia puts it better. Hope is an optimistic state of mind that is based on an expectation of positive outcomes with respect to events and circumstances in one’s life or the world at large. As a verb, its definitions include: “expect with confidence” and “to cherish a desire with anticipation. It is an anticipatory emotion.
As I mentioned earlier, there are different emotions and feelings that humans go through. They all carry their own importance with none particularly weightier than the other. Love is important, as is Joy. Faith (an accelerated version of hope) is of no less importance, nor is patience. Then we have the negative ones like despair, depression, fear, helplessness etc. They say the greatest of all emotions is love, what is love without life right, but what is life without hope. Hope walks hand in hand with almost every one of them, before you lose any of this, you would have first lost hope.
Seeing how important hope is, we must therefore be intentional about it. Holding on to hope is a personal responsibility especially because life is full of uncertainties, there will likely be cloudy days but when there is hope, there is a greater chance of making it through.
How can we then hold on to hope, especially when we’re going through challenges?
Many studies have shown that positive self-talk, reading uplifting books, envisioning hopeful images, listening to uplifting music, watching comedic videos (humour and laughter) and talking to positive people are useful coping measures to hold on to hope when we are suffering some “crisis” or difficult life event. I remember a time when I lost a pregnancy that was quite advanced, it also happened that I was caring for my mum who had suffered a life-changing medical crisis. I was shattered and helpless and was allowing myself to sink into depression, but for hope, which I nurtured by listening to uplifting music. The song “praise you in the storm’ was on replay and gradually I built up my faith and I was able to find joy again.
Another personal example actually has to do with the blog. Towards the end of last year, I was so busy doing life that I was unable to blog! I tried, but nothing was forthcoming. So I left it, and when my renewal was due, I was so down and discouraged that I did not renew. I almost lost the blog but for my sister! I shared my frustration with her and she quickly brought me out of the hole I had sunk myself in. Gingered by her encouraging words, I quickly swung into action and was lucky to get the blog back. Here I am, blogging again and enjoying it, it took talking to a positive person who helped restore my hope in blogging (thanks Yosi).
We are either hopeful or we are not. And, if we are hopeful, we have a chance. I believe that loss of hope is what leads people to suicide for indeed, hope is a lifeline for every living being – a surviving skill. Hope creates a positive disposition about an expectation, goal, or future situation. The thought of a positive outcome influences the state of mind and alters present behaviour, it swings you into action. It is therefore extremely important that we hold on to it, we oil it, feed it.
Some argue that hope is not an emotion, nor can it be a feeling. It has to be more than that they say, some even say it’s a state of mind. I agree with all of them, Hope can be all of that, but most importantly, Hope is a choice, a choice to keep at it, believing that whatever the situation one is facing, it will end in a positive outcome.
There are so many good emotions as are bad. What excites me more about hope is that it allows us to enjoy all other good emotions and also helps us overcome the bad ones. I like the song “voice of truth” by casting crown. It reminds me of hope, the little voice in us urging us not to give up, to keep pushing.
In this new year, I hope you laugh, I hope you are healthy and that you achieve your goals. I hope you smile, I hope you dream, I hope you dance. I hope you glow, I hope you grow, I hope you excel. I hope you have the audacity to hope for more and the audacity to go for it Above all, I hope you never lose hope.