Have you ever found that you really need hope? Paula from our Service User and Supporters Council (SUAS) tells us how she has learned that it benefits her mental health and wellbeing to strive after hope rather than accept discouragement.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines hope as “expectation or desire of a thing, or doing a thing”. I have learned to believe that hope for yourself and your situation is essential. Hope opens up doors to all kinds of good things. It makes us optimistic, outward-looking, and even happy.
It is said that there are three very important gifts: faith, hope and love. Love is the most important gift, but hope is the one we cannot do without. People can become depressed without hope. Hope is a safeguard in your life, because it is a very positive view of the future. Hope suggests to us that all is not lost, nor need we fear that all will be lost.
Hope occupies a very strong place in our gut, where we can experience our emotions. When we are hopeful, this hope spreads from our gut to our brain: we make plans, we get organised. Hope opens communication between us and the significant others in our lives. Hope becomes not only an emotion, but a state of being. It is characterised by engaging with others, and making great use of the situations in which we find ourselves.
The beauty of hope is that it fills our lives with endless possibilities: nothing is too much to hope for. Everyone can be hopeful; making the decision to be hopeful is key. I find that we can overcome bad habits with new ones, so, if you are accustomed to being hopeless, then you can switch your habit to being hopeful.
Practicing being hopeful is important. People use the idea of the glass being half empty or half full. This underlines that hopefulness is a state of mind; it becomes a way at looking at the world.
For me, hope starts with gratitude. Look at the plusses in your life, not the minuses (if you feel there are a lot of minuses, do talk to someone as you may benefit from some mental health support).
Below are some more of my suggestions and practices that you might find helpful to become and remain hopeful:
- Be grateful every day
- Do a mindfulness practice at least once a day
- Make plans, and follow them up
- See yourself smiling in your mind’s eye
- Think about the friend(s) you have
- Reflect on the good things in your life
- Look at the sky when it’s blue
- Read relaxing magazines
- Watch comedies (even if you have already read them!)
- Read books that make you happy
- Let go of despairing thoughts if they arrive
- Try not to believe bad things about yourself that aren’t true
- Confide your concerns to your doctor or mental health specialist.
These kinds of actions have helped me. You too may be surprised at how quickly you can become hopeful, and how long this hopefulness can last.
Remember, we all need hope, whether or not we have gone through mental ill-health. If you are not hopeful, then decide to be. Ask for help if you need it, especially if you ever experience complete hopelessness. People are behind you, and you are not alone.
We can become hopeful, even if we aren't now. There are great things in store: when we are hopeful, it is easier to notice them. See your life as a work in progress, and see yourself as being a hopeful person. After all, hopefulness is a gift for everyone, a very important gift.