There are a lot of bad things in the world, so it is completely normal that we will feel hopeless sometimes.
I want to be honest that I feel hopeless sometimes.
Sometimes I feel hopeless about politics. Sometimes I feel hopeless about violence and idiocy. Sometimes I feel hopeless about all of the suffering in the world.
Despite my periodic feelings of hopelessness, I still practice hope.
I use the word practice intentionally because I think of hope more as of an action I do, rather than a feeling I have, although my hoping actions often do translate into hoping feelings.
“How exactly does one practice hope?” There are probably many different ways, but here are three ways that I practice hope that are powerful for me:
1. Imagine: Often we feel hopeless because we feel like “every day is exactly the same”, and things will never change. It is understandable why we would feel this way.
When I need more hope, I imagine a better world–a world that is just and loving for everyone, not just me. I imagine the way people would feel in such a world, what they would do, and how they would speak to each other. I do this a lot at night as I am falling asleep.
Is this just a waste of time? I don’t think so. When we imagine, we create new worlds in our mind that are not yet so but could be so in one way or another. When we do this, we often create the space to figure out how actually to bring that world about.
Tomorrow can be different.
2. Ask: Often we feel hopeless because we feel like we are alone in the world, and we feel like our personal resources are completely inadequate.
I can’t tell you what to believe, but I would invite you to consider that there is something loving and much bigger than us that is always in motion and reaches out to us when we reach out to it.
You might call that thing The Universe, God, The Holy Spirit, Love, The Dao, The Buddha Nature, Universal Mind, etc.
I often think of it as Love and our Inner Light.
We catch glimpses of Love in beautiful scenes of nature; when we listen to music that moves us; and in the love of children, animals, and loving relationships with people.
This Bigger Thing wants to be known by us, and it is the source of wisdom. So, if we ask for wisdom, it loves to give it.
When I feel hopeless, I often ask for wisdom about my particular situation, and I almost always receive it, even if it takes a while (although it usually happens pretty quickly).
This assures me that I am not alone and that I do not have to do life by myself.
3. Act: Often when I feel hopeless, it is because I feel really passive–like I can’t change anything.
So sometimes when I feel really hopeless, I ask myself, “What is one thing I can do right now?”
I don’t have the solutions yet to violence, political despair and idiocy, or the suffering in the world. But I can do one thing.
I can write a blog post about hope.
I can write a friend.
I can make bread.
I can plan a beautiful lesson for my students.
I can call a senator.
I can take a nap.
I can paint a beautiful picture.
I can share love rather than hate on social media.
I can hug my husband.
If I worry about how I am going to solve all the problems of tomorrow or next week or next year, I feel hopeless.
If I think about one thing I can do right now, I can take loving action right now. Often that loving action opens up a new world of opportunity to me.
Reality is not given to us. Human beings create and transform their world through thought and action. Every time I act lovingly in my world, I create a new world. I am active.
Activity, newness, hope.
Today I feel pretty hopeful. I am going to teach an online debate class to some high school students. I am teaching them to think critically and communicate clearly.
This is a book I wrote a few years ago that helps teachers and homeschool parents teach their students and children to engage in meaningful discussion and debate.
It brought me hope to write it because I felt like I was bringing more clarity of thought and charity of spirit into the world.
This is my practice of hope for today. What is your practice of hope today?
If you would like to read more about hope, you might like “How to Build a Hope Sandwich You Can Eat Every Day”. (See below)
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*If you are interested in Everyday Debate, you can find it on Amazon, here:
Or at Classical Academic Press, here: