Positivity Practice #5: Hope

Welcome to Positivity Practice #5! This week we’re talking about Hope. If you’re just joining us, we are halfway through our practices based on the top 10 positive emotions from Dr. Barbara Fredrickson’s book Positivity: Top Notch Research Reveals the Upward Spiral That Will Change Your Life.

If you recall, we’re learning ways to “broaden and build” upon positive emotions, Dr. Fredrickson’s bedrock philosophy. The most important thing to remember is to be open to them and to savor them.

Hope: (n) to cherish a desire with anticipation; (v) to want something to happen or be the case

Synonyms: bank on, envisage, envision, dream of, foretell, look for, wish for, intend

I’ve been mulling over this topic for more than two weeks and it’s finally time to commit my thoughts to paper. Two big holidays just passed, first, it was Rosh Hashana (the Jewish New Year) and then Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement). I love these two back to back holidays because I have the opportunity to celebrate the New Year with family and friends and a week later, to do some introspection. Yom Kippur is the day you ask forgiveness for yourself and to forgive others. Although I am not religiously observant, I believe in the power of consciously letting go of the past, wiping the slate clean, and starting what I hope will be a great year.

It’s easy to overlook the power of this word since it is used in our everyday vernacular, especially in correspondences such as “I hope you are well”. But hope is so much more than a nicety and I’d like to hone in on its power.

Intention and Vision

To hope for something is to set a positive intention. By doing do,our mood can begin to lift, setting us on a new trajectory  in an upward spiral, even in the worst of times.

Hope is also about envisioning a positive outcome – and that alone is very powerful. It’s a positive foretelling of a future that we’d like to see no matter where we are in the present moment or where we have been before in the past. The cover photo of this blog is of a vision board I created five years ago. Vision boards are a great technique to put hope into practice.

Hope is the buffer against the downward spiral of thought and emotion too. Think about the pessimist vs. the optimist. The pessimist may find it a whole lot easier to fast track to despair (hope’s antonym), while the optimist may find solace in a hopeful future. I’d take the latter any day!

What’s most important to remember is that positivity isn’t about wearing the rose-colored glasses all the time. It’s important to acknowledge negative situations and emotions, not to sweep them away. It’s also important to recognize how you react to negative situations and emotions. Hope is another tool in your positivity toolbox to utilize.

I’ve spoken about using hope when feeling pessimistic or sad. Hope is also a great everyday elixir that can add both resiliency and excitement to the mix! Let’s look back to the first definition of hope that I listed: to cherish a desire with anticipation. I love this definition because it hones in on desire. Wow, how many of us clearly state our desires, than cherish our desires, let alone cherish them with anticipation?

So here’s my question for you: what desire do you cherish with anticipation? What do you hope for? Take a moment at the end of your day to answer these questions. I’d love to hear about your hopes, dreams, and visions here on the blog!

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