6 techniques to help you develop a more hopeful outlook.
Originally published July 15, 2020 on psychologytoday.com
Last month, I introduced a series entitled HEAR (Hope, Empowerment, Adaptation, Resilience) that I will present over the next four months. I dedicate this blog post to HOPE.
Being hopeful is a way of thinking. It is not passive. It’s not a trick you pull out of your bag when nothing is going your way. It’s a way of thinking which requires nurturing. It comes with a sense of self-confidence that can help you move confidently through the curves in the road you should expect in life. Hope is an effective tool to face adversity or something as dramatic and ominous as a pandemic.
The Indo-European root of the word hope comes from the same root as the word curve or to bend. In this way, Hope is intended to give a sense of moving forward in a different direction. The Hebrew and Greek meanings behind the word hope are confident expectation. This flies in the face of the American definition, which is wishful.
Once you’re armed with a more hopeful outlook, you’re capable to assess problems more organically and proactively. If you’re not sure that you qualify as a hopeful person, review these characteristics of hopeful people to see where you stand. If you feel most of them fit your personality, then you’re probably a hopeful person.
- Whenever you face diversity, you become a problem solver.
- You’re able to turn dreams into concrete goals and proactively execute them.
- You are grateful for what you have but continue to strive to improve yourself.
- You are open-minded, a leaner, information seeker, and don’t feel threatened by fresh ideas.
- Even when situations don’t work out optimally, you are optimistic and believe experiencing failure can provide valuable information that will help you.
- You’re able to live in the moment.
You may feel you don’t possess these characteristics. Or maybe just a few. If that’s the case, and you aspire to become a more hopeful person, try these six techniques. They will enhance your ability to be more hopeful.
1. Manage negative, hopeless thoughts. Many people get caught up in an endless cycle of negative thinking, particularly during challenging times. To mitigate falling into this trap journal daily. Reflect on the positive aspects of what you completed that day. Keep a resource list by your bedside of the positive attributes and skills that you are most proud of such as diligence, being detail-oriented, and perseverance. During times of stress and feelings of hopelessness, review the list to remind yourself that you can use these skills needed to overcome your adverse circumstances.
2. Learn to cope with challenges. Practice improving your frustration tolerance, patience, and waiting. Check potential thinking errors as you assess situations. If you find yourself negative forecasting remind yourself to “stop” and remain in the moment. Practice waiting to look at your phone or waiting to do anything impulsive that may fuel your level of frustration. Learning to cope with challenging circumstances will build your confidence in your ability to manage your emotions.
3. Contribute positively to someone else’s life. When you do something for someone else, it gets you out of your own world and forces you to look at someone else’s challenges. Doing something nice for someone reinforces the positive attributes that allow you to affect someone else. Write your action down in your journal to keep your momentum going.
4. Try to surround yourself with other positive people. Surrounding yourself with positivity can breed positivity. Look at your friends and family, determine who looks at life through a more positive lens. Try to be in contact with them more often than the others. Their positivity will rub off on you, but it will also be an exemplary model of a positive way of thinking.
5. Learn to focus on solutions to problems you can control. To cultivate hopefulness, focus on variables within your control. This particularly applies during a pandemic when outside forces are beyond our control. To sustain a sense of hope, concentrate on executing goals that are achievable, whether they are work-related, hobbies, home improvement projects. Whatever you choose will help reinforce your ability to problem-solve.
6. Concentrate on what is working in your life. Concentrating on the positive will give you a stronger sense of purpose, motivation, and confidence. Try to force positive events to the forefront of your mind and journal about them on a daily and weekly basis. It’s much easier to focus on the negative because we often have a “negativity bias,” remembering and ruminating on negative events (Vaish, Grossman, Woodward). Turning that into a positive outlook is a muscle you can strengthen.
Becoming a hopeful person and manifesting hope into your life is achievable if you’re able to exercise patience and perseverance.
“Not all emotions are created equal: The Negativity bias in social development,” Psychol Bull, Amrisha Vaish, Tobias Grossman,
Amanda Woodward, May 2008, ncbi.nlm. nih.gov/articles/pmc3652533