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How To Cultivate Hope When Things Are Falling Apart?

“Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear hardship today.”

 – Thich Nhat Hanh

There are various times in our life when we are suggested to “hope for the best.” Especially when things are bad or challenging, it is very difficult to maintain hope. If you think about it, there are times in life when everything seems to be going wrong and the only reason you move through those days is that you are hopeful that this will change.

What is hope?

In simple terms, hope is nothing but a state of mind that believes that things will get better. Charles Snyder was a Positive Psychologist who is well known for his Hope Theory. He defines hope as a positive cognitive state based on a sense of successful goal-directed determination and planning to meet these goals.

It is interesting to note that he emphasizes the action component of hope. Where he states that hope is not just believing that good things will happen, it is about actively striving to make it happen.

Let us now understand how to cultivate hope during challenging times.

There are three components to Snyder’s Hope Theory. They are as follows -

  1. Goals Thinking - It talks about goal-oriented thinking. This happens when people have a clear idea about the goals that they want to pursue. 

When people generally feel hopeless, it is majorly due to the lack of goals. Goals are something that holds a promise of a better future. That is why when you are feeling a lack of hope, ask yourself “If you could set a goal that would positively impact your life, what would it be?.” The goal does not need to be something big and ambitious, it could also be about the little changes that lead to better results. 

This feeling or belief that tomorrow can be better is important to cultivate. By setting a clear, measurable, SMART goal you can commit yourself to it. It also gives you the motivation to work towards something.

2. Pathways Thinking - It is not just important to set a goal, you also need to identify the pathways to make it happen. Here you have to think about the various paths that you can take to achieve the goal.

Hope is not just a fleeting state. It is a belief that things can be better and you can make them so. This is where you list down ways to reach a particular goal. During distress, it can be difficult to identify ways to change things or create a positive change. However, this is the time when it is most important to hold on to hope.

If the goal seems impossible to achieve right now, break it down into smaller steps and find out ways to get there. Talk to the people around you, read more about your goal, and identify ways to make it happen. Until and unless you develop a plan to achieve your goal, it is just a wish. 

3. Agency Thinking - What one needs to keep up hope is also a strong belief in one’s ability to make things better. Agency thinking talks about this faith and trusts individuals have in themselves.

When things get wrong there seem to be not many people whom you can trust. You cannot even control the situations and things seem to be difficult. All you need during that time to keep up hope is the belief that you can change things for the better. 

Hope is mostly about believing that there is a better future. Encouraging one to dream and imagine a better tomorrow. It starts with a vision for things to be better and talks about the practical way to get there. Hope is something that encourages you to work towards something you believe is possible.