Don't you wish you could wake up every morning feeling that you have unlimited resources to solve your problems?
I sure do.
1996 was an especially hard year for me. I wanted to study full-time but found it increasingly difficult while working a series of temporary jobs in Barcelona. Living far from my family I had to pay for school and cover all my costs.
I went to apply for a scholarship but was informed that as a Peruvian student I needed to also have Spanish citizenship. That process had not been completed yet.
Deep inside I knew that the difficulties I was facing could teach me something valuable, as had happened previously in my life.
But the fear and uncertainty that I was feeling were also taking a toll on my health. The negative thoughts prevented me from focusing on how to resolve the situation and I had begun to suffer from sleep and eating disorders.
Despite these obstacles and my fight with symptoms of stress and depression, I cultivated a sense of quiet confidence that all would be well, and remained hopeful that my situation could be resolved.
According to Jennifer Cheavens, assistant professor of psychology at Ohio State University, "Hope is different from optimism, which is a generalized expectancy that good things will happen. Hope involves having goals, along with the desire and plan to achieve them."
I had specific targets, the desire, and a plan. But was there something more I could do to put my hope into action and overcome the fear threatening my dreams and abilities to reach my goals?
One way that has helped me to calm down in fearful circumstances is to create a spiritual space. For me, that often means finding a quiet place to reflect on Bible passages that speak to me of one God, of strong evidence of His goodness, of a provable truth applicable in any situation.
One helpful verse, for instance, is:
"And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work." (II Corinthians 9:8)
With this expectation, I know I am secure. I can silently await the right solution for my problems, confident the idea I need is within my reach and will become clear in a timely way.
To me, this is stress reduction in its most effective form. It prepares me to receive. And I've found that this is a spiritual practice that can be done anywhere at any time. For instance sitting in an office, walking, or driving.
Little did I know that pondering these ideas would also gradually give me the spiritual foundation I was looking for, the deeper meaning of what God intends for my life -- a sense that there is a purpose for me that could not be taken away.
I remember thinking that the opportunity to study abroad, even in fits and starts, was something for which I could already feel grateful. I was pursuing more education and setting a career path to have a fuller life. I was acquiring knowledge to add value to everything I'd have to do in the future, and that could benefit others as well.
When I feel part of a greater whole, I sometimes get solutions with even better results than expected. In fact, this is what happened with the school situation that had made me so anxious.
After a few days, a practical idea also led to freedom from the mental gloom and physical disorders. I wrote to the faculty explaining my situation and was granted a scholarship for that year.
At the conclusion of this period, I traveled to the U.S. for a summer English course. I then applied for an internship at a global news network. That opportunity became my entrance into journalism. Some of my happiest and most productive days were spent working in that field, and prepared me for what I do today.
This experience proved to me that underneath every problem there is a solution waiting to be discovered.
When you are experiencing stress, consider leaning trustingly on the power of good to inspire and guide you. You'll be glad you did.