Hope is the thing…
"Where there is hope, there is life. It fills us with fresh courage and makes us strong again." – Anne Frank
One of the biggest challenges people are struggling with during the COVID-19 pandemic is feeling stuck in the problematic present and afraid to look to the future. This is where "hope is the thing…"
The character strength of hope has to do with positive expectations about the future. Moreover, it is the belief that the future will be better than the present, along with the idea that we can make it so.
Many seem to find hope, joy and the strength to persevere — in little wonders. In fact, there is growing body of science into the importance of green, the importance of trees, and being outside, and awe and wonder.
Keeping this in mind, I recently acted upon a recommendation to check out the latest book by the talented ABC journalist Julia Baird called Phosphorescence: On Awe, Wonder, and Things That Sustain You When the World Goes Dark.
"Phosphorescence is an investigation into how we can find internal happiness, even when facing the greatest odds - the light within. The Phosphorescence that can sustain us when the ground is shifting beneath our feet… if only you know how to recognise them."
I experienced it as an audiobook which proved to be a luxurious pleasure. Listening to the author read her own words, languishing in the most visceral and visual personal reflections of the natural world. It resonated with me deeply, and I cannot recommend this book highly enough.
My top character strength in action is always the appreciation of beauty and excellence, so noticing beauty and being present with the ordinary helps me feel more hopeful, uplifted, and energised.
Hence, yesterday for the Adventurous Minds Day, this was implicit to my plan. I walked in nature from bush to beach, created art, meditated in the garden with my chickens, made care packs for friends & masks for strangers. I danced like no one was watching, sang like no one was listening, and prepared food with loving intention. It sounds like a lot, but I can honestly say I was in flow most of the day.
To enhance your strength of hope, consider the following questions posed by Nancy Fredricks in her article cited below, HOPE - The Secret Productivity Attitude;
- What are the conditions that have led you to be hopeful in your life?
- How do you balance what is realistic and unrealistic in terms of your expression of hope and optimism?
- What role does hope play during challenging times in your life?
- How do you express a hope at those times?
As we inch towards the end of Term 3, and all being well, the end of Stage 4 restrictions, I am quietly optimistic Term 4 will provide more silver linings. It might even be a good time to revisit your character strengths and (re) take the free 15-minute VIA Survey and receive your profile.
Until next term, I wish you all a safe and healthy break and encourage you to find what gives you hope, albeit in the natural world, or others' kindness.
And finally, thank you, Paul Kelly, for reminding us of the wisdom and beauty in poetry, by sharing A-message-of-hope, in the words of Emily Dickinson (314)
"Hope" is the thing with feathers -
That perches in the soul -
And sings the tune without the words -
And never stops - at all -
And sweetest - in the Gale - is heard -
And sore must be the storm -
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm -
I've heard it in the chillest land -
And on the strangest Sea -
Yet - never - in Extremity,
It asked a crumb - of me.
Director of Counselling
Further reading & Acknowledgements
Phosphorescence: On Awe, Wonder And Things That Sustain You When The World Goes Dark by Julia Baird