I had a chat with a client recently who was telling me about a small country town where the main form of employment (a factory) had closed; the town had the highest gambling rate in the country.
Apparently, in a little place where most people are on welfare, they spend on average $220 a week on gambling.
Initially, I was stunned. Then she said, "Because it represents hope for them." Wow. That thought had not entered my consciousness! When I stopped and reflected, I could see the truth in that statement.
These people were hoping to make more money to buy more food or Christmas presents, but the sad reality is that they would have been better saving the money -- but try telling people in their situation that.
Hopelessness feels like the bottom of life's barrel. It is usually accompanied with a sense of helplessness as well. You can't go any lower. And to use an old cliché, there are no holes in the barrel, so the only place you can go is up!
When we feel hopeless and helpless our life forces drain away, but the truth is:
- You are never helpless (as an adult!)
- There is always hope -- always
Because we always have choices.
We have choices on:
- How to think
- What story we tell ourselves
- How to look differently at situations
- How to reframe a situation
We can make a choice to ask for help or seek guidance -- from others, God, Allah, the Divine, Spirit or your own higher self or inner wisdom.
Remember, life is not about reality, it is about the stories we tell ourselves about what is going on -- not the truth! It's only our perceptions. When things look down and out, lift up your head and shout: "It is getting better!"
Tell yourself a different story. A more hopeful story.
I just had lunch with a psychologist friend of mine, and she shared with me some details from a seminar she attended. It was all about neuroscience and the plasticity of the brain and depression. Rereading Florence Shinn's excellent book The Secret Door to Success reminded me of the power of faith. And her definition of it.
"Faith is the substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things not seen."
Until recently, no one had "seen" how the brain worked, but now they know. Hope is a bit like that -- we may not see a concrete example of what we hope for or how it could happen, but we can hang onto our hope, identify the loops of thinking we are stuck in and change the way our brain fires -- on purpose!
See? With knowledge, hope grows stronger. It takes work.
Ms. Shinn means by that our work when we feel hopeless is to make ourselves hold onto an image of things having worked out, of what we need appearing miraculously. But we have to believe that it will happen, and prepare for it... and that's the work part!
So you are never helpless. Once your brain is out of the closed, small loop, you have much more capacity to create. You can change your brain!
It's so easy to write and yet so challenging to do this work of faith and believing what has not happened yet! It takes courage, determination, mind power, faith and resilience.
You have access to all of these skills -- all the time. See: You are never helpless!
To hold onto hope and have faith that things will improve when everything looks terrible, and then to prepare for the situation you hoped for (as long as it is yours by Divine right!) is one of the greatest life skills to master.
This is a great time to put effort into practicing this wonderful ability we all have! It's a time to have faith and prepare for a peaceful, joy-filled time of connection and love!
All of us at The Joy Project look forward to hearing how wonderful your holiday was and hope that you send us photos of all you joy fairies in action!
In fact, we are not just hoping, we are preparing an album to put your photos into!
We practice what we preach!
For more by Amanda Gore, click here.
For more on emotional wellness, click here.