Can You Choose Hope Even When Things Feel Hopeless?

This year has felt like a full rollercoaster hasn’t it? One day you’re out celebrating a beautiful spring day and a slight return to what might feel normal and the next you may smack right back into the reality of a global pandemic, school fatigue, seemingly unending violence like we’ve never seen before in our lives and then right back up to some end of school year milestone reached, or maybe missed. It’s enough to test anyone’s resilience, not to mention sunny disposition.

roller coaster under white clouds and blue sky

Personally, I have been digging into the concepts of joy and hope a lot lately. My knee-jerk reaction is to worry or feel guilty that being hopeful or focusing on joy may somehow mean I am ignoring the reality of the not so great that exists today.

The truth is that hope is healing and focusing on joy can help fortify us for the fight necessary to make things better. If all we do is focus our energy on the negative and the hopeless, then we risk getting stuck in those places with no room to grow or move toward better.

So, of course, as a feelings doctor, I am going to preach that we should all feel whatever we are feeling in any given moment. But don’t stop there. Feel what you feel, but  examine if you’re lingering too long in the dark. Check in and see if  you can instead actively search for the joy even if it’s small moments. Can we focus on hope and gather our strength to continue to march toward the good?

My very pragmatic mom had a saying growing up: “you can cry, but only for a little while”.

We had some reasons to cry in my home back when I was small. No one would have judged my mom if she got stuck in the darkness of sorrow and pain. Instead, she cried for a little while, then gathered herself up to move toward the light, helping bring others with her along the way.

She taught me the this: strength is forged from hardship and choosing your joy is the ultimate act of resistance.

Going forward, amidst all the darkness, I’m choosing hope and light. Joy and love-the very things we all want more of, I intend find them in my every day.

How about you?


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