How to be Hopeful During Difficult Times

November 12, 2020

As we’re nearing the end of 2020, many people are feeling exhausted and burnt out from enduring the ongoing pandemic. It’s been a long year filled with unexpected stressors. During a year like this, it can sometimes be difficult to know how to be hopeful. However, it’s usually in trying times that we need hope the most.

What Does It Actually Mean to Have Hope?

Hope is different than having wishful thinking. Instead, Positive Psychology defines hope as, “a positive cognitive state based on a sense of successful goal-direction determination and planning to meet these goals.” Hope is less about how things are currently going and having an attitude of optimism. It’s more about choosing goal-directed thinking and having motivation for the future by believing that you can achieve your goals.

This video explains hope theory and how hope has three components to it– goals, pathways and agency:

Why Hope Is Important

Time and time again, researchers have found many benefits to having hope. It can lead to better performance, success and more overall happiness in life. In a study done on college students, those with more hope were found to have less anxiety and depression. Researchers have also found that hope can improve our physical health, alongside our mental health.

Having hope is more critical now than ever. People who feel hopeful, even in this difficult time, will still be able to see their desired outcomes for their lives as attainable and be able to continue to put their efforts towards their goals. Hope is something that can allow us to reshape a negative situation and have resilience.

How to Be Hopeful

Find Your Sense of Meaning

Taking some time to evaluate what in our lives gives us purpose and what is meaningful to us can give us hope. It usually takes some time to find our sense of meaning, but once we do come to recognize what motivates and inspires us, then we can move forward in our lives focused on that thing. Even when we experience setbacks, like a global pandemic, our sense of purpose will hold firm and we can keep being hopeful by finding new pathways to achieve our goals.

Build Supportive Networks

Cultivating a sense of connectedness with those around us can give us hope. Surrounding ourselves with people who share similar values and goals can inspire us and propel us forward. And in the times when you may be feeling less hopeful, these people can offer their support.

Make SMART Goals

By setting goals for ourselves, we have an actionable way to hold onto hope and achieve what we want to achieve. However, if you struggle with anxiety or depression, goals can sometimes seem too overwhelming and have drawbacks for our mental health. Setting SMART goals can allow us to benefit from goal setting in a way that is manageable and without those negatives. Having goals that we feel good about and that feel attainable will help give us hope.

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