The Anatomy of Hope

04/12/2013 08:15 am ET | Updated Jun 12, 2013
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What exactly is it, that little kernel, that tiny bud of something, that allows people who possess it to move beyond the immediacy of their troubles and to focus instead on the barely discernible sparkle of light, the promise that misery is only fleeting and that better days lay just ahead? Surely that tiny bubble of optimism lives in each of us, and for some, it seems an easy task to summon up the courage to focus on the light. But for others, the quicksand of misfortune and disappointment is all-encompassing, a suffocating handicap on the road to happiness. In many ways, the acquiescence to hopelessness is the lazy man's route. No effort is required to let inertia overtake you, to let yourself be mired in melancholy, to feel first your shoulders and then your heart and finally your dreams slump and fade away. But there are no rewards to hopelessness, no rainbows, no wishes fulfilled. Without hope, we are no more than cogs in a spinning wheel. But with it, we are the wind that makes the wheel turn.

So how do we tap into our fountain of optimism and hope? Just how do some of us see through the pain of a broken heart or an endless wad of worries to the possibilities that lay just ahead? On those days when nothing seems possible, we have to believe in ourselves and ultimately in the temporary nature of our discontent. And with a little effort, and a practiced approach, we can find our way past our own stumbling blocks and make our way to the possibilities that hope offers.

How do we conceive and imagine and finally grasp the positive outcome? The first step goes beyond believing in our own worthiness, although we surely must believe in that. Finding hope is finding the confidence to know with absolute certainty that there is light at the end of our tunnels, and that light will guide us through whatever storms we face. To move forward, believe in yourself, in your innate goodness, and allow yourself to be open to the world's possibilities. Know too that your trials are transient, a tiny blip on the screen that is your life.

Once you've imagined the hope-filled outcomes, open your eyes and your heart to the potential and promise we all too often miss as we struggle to just get by -- the singular beauty of a perfect sunrise, the sound of children's laughter, the sudden twinkle of an evening star -- and know too that the universe wants you to sparkle as brightly as that star, to laugh as raucously as that child and to glow as brilliantly as that sunrise.

We've all seen the examples of hope at its best -- the patient who despite the odds and the devastating prognosis, outlives his terminal cancer, the stroke victim who learns to speak again, the heartbroken woman who finds the love of her life. The common denominator is hope, that ability to believe in the power of your own wishes and dreams and imagination, and to know that whatever trial you face, hope is, if not the cure, then the first antidote to what ails you.

Everything that we do or touch is impacted by hope. It puts the smile on your face, the spring in your step, the dream in your heart. Without it we are left to our own often insubstantial devices, but with it, we are able to rise above and see beyond the minutiae and melancholy that might otherwise define us. Hope is not an elusive or intangible quality as so many academics would have us believe. It is our own reality at its very best, and it exists in each of us. Find yours, exercise it daily, imagine, dream and then take the necessary steps -- baby steps to be sure at first, to finding your bliss and creating your new reality.

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