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Finding Hope & How to Embrace it

A Story of Finding Hope

In my past life, I worked as a nutrition services supervisor for a school district. For nearly five years before this, it had been a dream job of mine. Considering the fact we are talking about it as my ‘past life’… you can connect the dots to know it did not turn out as anticipated.

While I have left that part of my life behind, I was able to take away a LOT of valuable lessons. Some of the were painful and other lessons continue to play out today. One of the latter was in regard to HOPE.

The district’s superintendent had decided to implement a theme of Making Hope Happen. It was based on a book written by Shane J. Lopez who even came out a district wide meeting for everyone in management and talked about hope.

At that meeting, I bought a signed copy of the book and decided to crack it open on my next day off. As one who is obsessed with coffee does, I took the book to my favorite coffee shop and starting reading.

By the time I got to page five, tears starting rolling down my face. It wasn’t long before I was full-on ugly crying in the middle of the coffee shop. Let’s just say the book has some incredible stories of hope in it.

Why Hope was Needed

First, a little background information about the school district and why hope was needed.

The district was located in one of the most poverty stricken counties in the country. As a result, some kiddos (as in a lot of them) who attended the schools struggled to have a positive outlook on the future. And, for valid reasons.

The kiddos who attended the schools within the district had day-to-day lives that were not always easy. You might be wondering, how so? Here are a couple of examples:

  • As I’d drive through the cities to visit different school sites, I passed storefronts and homes where people had been robbed, stabbed, or shot to death the night before. These were the same neighborhoods the kiddos lived in.
  • Many students were homeless and would live in shelters or their family car. Food insecurity was a part of their everyday lives. Often times, the food they received at school was pretty much the only food they got. At some of our school sites, the kids ate breakfast, lunch, snack, and dinner at school. When school was not in session, they’d rely on our meal service program at the schools and local park sites.

Without getting too lost in the heartbreak that took place, we can summarize it by saying the kiddos within the district were facing problems many others their age had never encountered or thought about.

In fact, you may have never encountered these things yourself. Regardless, based on the information provided, you can imagine living a life surrounding by such terrible events and struggles no one – especially young kids – should face can make it incredibly difficult to have hope.

FOR YOU: So, why do you need hope? What is happening in your life that is in need of change? Perhaps you have some fears that feel overwhelming and making you worry.

The Value of Hope

Living the life you desire is the result of hope.

For many, when we think about working toward an achievement, we view the process as a series of required steps. To conquer each step, we often resort to “self-control” to keep us on track.

However, when we tighten down on ourselves with ”self-control”, we miss the beauty of hope which instills uplifting and motivating energy.

On one hand, you can say that self-control or will-power can be a form of negative reinforcement whereas hope can be considered positive reinforcement. Speaking from personal experiences, positive reinforcement has better success rates.

Unfortunately, society has taught us that we have to struggle to be successful. And, that struggle is often perpetuated and concealed in a Trojan horse named self-control or will-power.

As the back of the Making Hope Happen book says, “…hope is more than an emotion: it is an essential life tool.” While on the surface, we might see hope as superficial, especially if we are in a current of fear.

What is Hope?

Hope is NOT wishing. Hope and wishing are two totally different things.

When you wish, you are simply making a statement of what you would like something to be. Whereas hope can be tied with a realistic account of the difficulties and efforts involved to achieve the dream or wishing.

When you employ hope in your life, you are setting your sights on a brighter future. It can awaken your soul and help you to move forward, even in uncertain times.

How to Embrace Hope

  • Identify what is creating fear in your life.
    • Perception plays a large role in our hope of the future. For example, if we view a task as a chore and are unable to link it to the value it brings for the future, we can struggle.
  • Focus on what you would like to be in your life.
    • In a realistic manner, think about what you would like to change. Now, this is in a realistic manner because we are not wishing here. Rather, we are creating hope.
  • When you need it most, and even when you are feeling better, focus on what you would like the future to hold for you.
  • There are probably some other good things to add here. But, we are going to leave it at this for now. If you are seriously seeking out more hope in your life, I highly recommend reading Making Hope Happen by Shane J. Lopez.

Disclaimer: Be careful not to push your wishful thinking onto others disguised as hope which can end up being detrimental. This can look like phrases such as, “think positive” or “don’t lose hope.” We are not trying to spread toxic positivity – which can do more damage.

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