We cannot live without hope. It gets us out of bed in the morning. It may be as essential as air. Without hope, we have only hopelessness and despair, which is the equivalent of spiritual death.
But hope is not just a sentimental emotion. It is willful, cognitive and intentional. To have hope gives us the opportunity to change course when things seem bleak, and we feel trapped or helpless. But to do so, we need three basic abilities:
Goals- we need to know where we want to go.
Pathways - we need to have a plan on how to get where we need to go.
Agency - once we have a goal, and a pathway to get us there, we need to BELIEVE that we can do it.
Hope is born out of struggle. When our goals are threatened, we need hope to rediscover them and find new pathways.
When all our pathways out of a situation seem to be closed off to us, it takes hope to forge new ones, or plow through the old ones.
The toughest struggle may be when we lose agency, when we no longer have the confidence and think we cannot find new pathways or goals. When that happens, only hope can get us out of our struggle.
So we learn hope, and it may be one of the toughest lessons of our lives. But it can also save us.
People who naturally have hope are healthier, live longer and make everyone around them feel more hope and happiness.
The bottom line, choose hope - it will get you out of the dark places and leave you feeling healthier and happier on the other side.
Dr. John Monaco