We’ve all been through times when it seemed like all hope was lost. In those times of despair, what can we do to keep hope alive? Here are five suggestions for remaining hopeful.
Trust in God
When we truly Trust in God, some other changes in attitude will automatically follow. Trust in God brings positivity and helps us to challenge negative beliefs. That trust also allows us the discover the unexpected benefits that come from life’s challenges. Doctrine and Covenants 98:3 reads, “all things wherewith [we] have been afflicted shall work together for [our] good” and to the glory of the Lord’s name.
There are many examples of people who have suffered many setbacks that actually resulted in their being able to achieve later greatness, Albert Einstein, Abraham Lincoln, Walt Disney, Dr. Seuss, George Lucas, Henry Ford, to name a few.
For example, Albert Einstein didn’t start speaking until he was almost 3 and rarely spoke at all until he was almost 5. People thought that he had was mentally disabled. He is now considered to be one of the most intelligent people to have ever lived. We may not know how all life’s adversities will work for our good, but we should have confidence that they will.
Seek Out Hopeful People
Perhaps the best way to keep hope alive is by seeking out the company of hopeful people. Sonya Lyubomirsky said, “There may be no better coping mechanism than confiding or sharing a problem with a friend or intimate.” We all know them. People who regardless of their circumstances keep a smile on their face. In times of darkness, they still radiate light. Just being around these hopeful people helps you to keep hopeful. These people offer words of encouragement, smiles, and positivity even when things seem dark.
My wife is a great example of such a hopeful person. She maintains a positive attitude and always has a ready smile despite all the challenges that she faces. People seek her out because they know that no matter what she is going through, she will have a positive, hopeful outlook.
Hopeful people are often found in churches, and in charitable or community service organization, or perhaps even hopeful professional counselors. Look for them, and try to align your goals with their worthy goals, and you will find your life will be filled with much more hope.
Strive to Develop Confidence
When we are confident, we are hopeful. Challenges are opportunities to be confronted, not insurmountable obstacles. Confidence allows us to make goals and gives us the strength to achieve those goals.
Vaughn Worthen wrote, “[w]e can gain confidence by tackling a task we have been putting off, engaging in a difficult conversation we might have been avoiding, or working on developing a talent. We should focus on effort and progress rather than complete success. Confidence is not the certainty of success but rather the conclusion that failure does not determine our worth—we lose nothing by trying.” As our confidence grows, our hope grows.
Do Good Works
A most effective way to cultivate hope is by doing good. It isn’t necessary to do some amazing thing, even small acts of goodness can result in a large harvest of hope. Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf taught, ”[w]e learn to cultivate hope the same way we learn to walk, one step at a time. As we study the scriptures, speak with our Heavenly Father daily, commit to keep the commandments of God, like the Word of Wisdom, and to pay a full tithing, we attain hope. We grow in our ability to ‘abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost,’ as we more perfectly live the gospel.”
Confidence is not the certainty of success but rather the conclusion that failure does not determine our worth—we lose nothing by trying.
One sister from a ward I attended years ago was an example of this principle. She was severely handicapped, to the point that it was difficult for her to leave her home, but would frequently do small acts of service, like calling friends to encourage them, writing short thank you notes, inviting people to dinner. These small acts of service helped her to be hopeful and gave hope to me. Whenever I thought that the challenges I was facing were insurmountable, I would look to her and realize that I could follow her example.
Confirm Your Hope Daily
Each day we will face challenges that are unique and difficult. Each day we must have some mechanism in place to help us face those new and unique challenges. Relief Society General President Elaine Jack encouraged, “[d]on’t defer hope even when you feel most hopeless. Confirm your hope every way you can.”
There are many ways to daily confirm our hope. Daily prayer, daily meditation, purposeful scripture study are common suggestions, but there are so many more opportunities to confirm hope. Looking for hope in nature, enjoying kind interactions with children and co-workers, finding that one’s daily work is meaningful service – one can confirm hope in anything.
Sister Jack continued, “Each small, loving, daily detail [in life can confirm] hope. Little details and small events show that life [is] still good.” Sometimes confirming hope with a positive quote, a meaningful piece of artwork, or a beloved song is enough to change one’s outlook for the day.
Finally, remember that you don’t have to do it all by yourself. Seek out hope from God. He can best guide you about what to do. When we can’t do it on our own, we may need help from a Bishop or Stake President, or a professional counselor. You never have to go it alone.