Exercising Hope

Image by Steve Snodgrass on Patheos.com

“It’s in times of difficulty that we often become most aware of hope. We become acutely aware that we’re short on hope or we seek it. Or we become particularly aware of the precious sources of hope in our life.”

Denise Larson, Hope Studies Central

“It can be comforting to remember,” writes Stephanie Bailey, “that hope is something we can practise and get better at. For those of us looking to cultivate more of it in our lives, here are some tactics, developed by Hope Studies Central and backed by decades of their research in classrooms, hospitals and communities”:

Begin to notice where hope is in your life: Be alert to your feelings of hope and, conversely, times when your hopeful attitude is threatened. The tiniest thing can spark hope: walking into a family member’s kitchen, the smell of cookies baking, a kind word. When we make a conscious decision to orient ourselves towards hope, we find more of it.

Challenge yourself to find hope in your day: Make it a mission to find things that represent hope for you every day. Or enjoy a “hope walk,” where you take photos of 10 objects that symbolize hope for you. With practice, you’ll become better at remembering to focus on hope.

Find stories of hope from your past: Look at photos and identify the ones that give you hope. Tell the stories that go with them. Finding evidence of hope in our past reminds us it’s possible in the future.

Get creative and share hope: Why not write an inspirational message on the sidewalk or post a hopeful note in your window? Find creative ways you can spread hope in your community.

Keep reminders of hope nearby: For example, what image is on your screen saver? What does it symbolize for you? What image might you choose? Or try your hand at making a collage, in which you compile images that symbolize hope.

Identify a personal strength: Then tell a story to a supportive friend about how you know that you have this particular strength. This exercise reminds you that you are equipped to deal with the struggles you face.

Reframe your thinking: Think about what’s most important to you today. Acknowledge the difficulties you face, and consider the future in ways that highlight your strengths and the possibilities in your situation.

Identify your hope heroes: Who symbolizes hope for you? What makes you consider them that way? What have you learned from them?

Surround yourself with hope: Choose to spend time with people who lift you up and help you see your strengths and abilities.

Break the silence: If you’re feeling hopeless or uncertain, tell someone. Choose someone who will listen well and who believes in you.

For more check out Denise Larsen’s On Demand webinar “Finding Hope in Bad Times and Good” and the Hope Studies Central website

Article above is taken from New Trail article written by Stephanie Bailey.

What have you learned about practicing hope?

Practicing hope for me is the exercise what James Houston calls “psalmic therapy”.  The Psalmists are expert hope practitioners for they explore the depth of sorrow and the substance of a hope that stabilizes and enlivens them.  Thus the Psalmist sings:

Why, my soul, are you downcast?
    Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
    for I will yet praise him,
    my Saviour and my God.

About R.H. (Rusty) Foerger

As I enter the third third of life, I am becoming aware of the role of elders today “to enlarge spiritual vision, being devoted to prayer, living in the face of death, as a living curriculum of the Christian life” (Dr. James M. Houston). I am a life long and life wide learner who seeks to: *decipher the enigma of our worth *rescue from the agony of prayerlessness *integrate spiritual friendship.
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