Sunday, 22 July 2012

Where do you find your hope?

A friend sent me the quote “HOPE – Hold On, Pain Ends” which touched me, and I passed this on via twitter receiving a reply from one of my followers saying this is just what she had needed to hear at that time.  I was so happy that these words had brought hope to another person across the world.

“As I stared at the wide blue yonder hope swelled in my heart
Hold on pain ends
The gentle breeze whispered in the air,
Hold on pain ends, don’t despair
I smiled; I laughed and said a prayer
My hopes laid bear
In the expectation that life will get better

I remember well the hopes I held within myself from diagnoses of breast cancer, while in hospital and recovering from various ops, and going through chemo and radiation treatments (with a broken ankle I might add!).  All kinds of them; some were simple about daily life, like hoping someone would pop round for a coffee and a chat, or that I could wave a magic wand and the housework would all be done – to hoping to find a new place to live (which I did do eventually), that I  would be able to go back to feeling so much better with a promise that not only would my own  life  but others who were also having issues too lives would improve - to hoping that my son did well at school and much bigger things as to the hope our politicians, banks and people in power managed to get together to sort out our economic mess and then to the somewhat  more unrealistic hope of world peace!  I have been a hopeful person all my life, but sometimes my hopes have been dashed as it has relied on other people, other outcomes and learning really that you cannot rely on hope alone, taking action brings your hopes closer to fruition. 
All of us have hopes, dreams and wishes and most of these are the same across this world - to be happy.  Such a commonality from such diversity. 

“I laugh, I love, I hope, I try, I hurt, I need, I fear, I cry. And I know you do the same things too, so we’re really not that different, me and you.”

Dwelling recently on my hopes, I wondered what defined hope, is it something tangible or intangible, is it a feeling or an action, can hopes interfere with dealing with reality so less of a positive thing and does it have an end result? Dreams, wishes, promises and expectations all are connected to our hopes, although optimism and positivity is often confused with the definition of hope.  As with everything in the world there are people who have studied this! 

Hope is described as "a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen - a feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best" - or "the act of looking forward to something with reasonable confidence - to cherish a desire with anticipation".  In the English language the word hope can be used as either a noun such as expectation, expectancy, trust, promise - or a verb trust, expect, anticipate. So hope is both a feeling and an action.  Hope may be a state of mind or the expression of a state of being but when hope is combined with action…it is truly a force to be reckoned with.  

“Approximately 77,000 years ago at Lake Toba a super volcano erupted in Sumatra, Indonesia plunging the planet into a 6 to 10 year volcanic winter, during which light was obscured, plants and animals died and human populations were almost completely wiped out.  The population of humans in the world reduced to less than 10,000 breeding pairs. The fact that this small group of relatively fragile species populated the whole planet illustrates the deep driving power of the mental state we call hope.”

“According to Greek mythology, the first woman on Earth, Pandora, was given a box that she was not to open under any circumstance. Too curious to resist, she opened it, and all of the evils of the world flew out: hate, pain, destructiveness, starvation. When Pandora saw what she had done, she closed the box before the last thing in there could escape. That last thing was hope.”
People who started with just hope throughout history have pushed our boundaries, worked towards positive change.  Some hopes just started with a dream, a goal for a better kind of living, freedom and justice.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal." Martin Luther King

I am very much an optimist, convinced that things will work out well, but do recognize others are pessimists and view hope in a completely different way - but I would much rather wake up with smile looking forward to the day rather than with dread, and my hope for the promise of such a new day keeps me positive (if that makes sense).  There is an important distinction to be made between hope and optimism. The two are often confused. To be optimistic means to believe that everything is heading towards a happy ending. To hope means to believe that whatever happens, a way of coping and building towards the future may be found. 

Hope is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.” ― Václav Havel

Health professionals are becoming more aware of the importance of hope and taking spirituality into account when planning and delivering care to those with chronic illness, cancer, survivors and those who may not survive. Spirituality and religion can offer an explanation for the disease and offer hope that is integrated into the patient's social and cultural beliefs. 

Many people when first diagnosed with cancer see it as equivalent to a death sentence, leading to fear but the understanding that the diagnosis and treatment will bring profound change to their way of life. Some take the opportunity to search out in this time of uncertainty their own spirituality and often gain new strength in the fight for survival (this was certainly the case for me).  Medical studies into this area have proved that increased spirituality lessens suffering as patients often perceive their experience from a new point of view, with new opportunities permitting change brought about by survival and comfort for those who know they may not survive. Despite feeling so ill, weak and weary and living day by day hope always was with me, and hope was also given to me by friends and family that kept me holding on and the knowing that it would pass.  

“During chemo, you're more tired than you've ever been.  It's like a cloud passing over the sun, and suddenly you're out.  You don't know how you'll answer the door when your groceries are delivered.  But you also find that you're stronger than you've ever been.  You're clear.  Your mortality is at optimal distance, not up so close that it obscures everything else, but close enough to give you depth perception.  Previously, it has taken you weeks, months, or years to discover the meaning of an experience.  Now it's instantaneous. “ ~Melissa Bank

This increasing awareness of how spirituality can help those with cancer and chronic disease, some caregivers use the HOPE concept with their patients: H—sources of hope, strength, comfort, meaning, peace, love and connection; O—the role of organized religion for the patient; P—personal spirituality and practices; E—effects on medical care and end-of-life decisions. 

“As your faith is strengthened you will find that there is no longer the need to have a sense of control, that things will flow as they will, and that you will flow with them, to your great delight and benefit.”  ~Emmanuel

Different religions give people their identity, their lives a purpose and meaning and different kind of hope.
 Hinduism: Gain release from the cycle of rebirth and merge with the eternal Divine, thus escaping an inhospitable world. Turning towards and discovering God provides a perspective and an unfailing source of support and strength which ensures that "one does not succumb to the heaviest of sorrows".
 "In the history of the world, Hinduism is the only religion that exhibits a complete independence and freedom of the human mind, its full confidence in its own powers. Hinduism is freedom, especially the freedom in thinking about God." 

Buddhism: Gain enlightenment and, in that way, free yourself from the sufferings that come from illusions and attachments to life. Buddhist believes the reason people are so unhappy is that they want or crave things: when people don't get what they want, they become sad. The idea is that we are our own source of unhappiness, and we can change how we feel by changing our attitude and desires.
“Live in Joy, in love, even among those who hate. Live in joy, in health, even among the afflicted. Live in joy, in peace, even among the troubled. Look within. Be still. Free from fear and attachment, know the sweet joy of living in the way.”

Judaism: Do God's commandments. In Jewish culture the tradition of hope is perceived as a central and indispensable aspect of their religion and has inspired thinkers who see the rainbow beyond the cloud.
“Hope is like peace. It is not a gift from God. It is a gift only we can give one another"

 Islam: Submit oneself to the will of Allah. In Islam no worship is complete without the presence of three qualities: love of Allah, hope in His Mercy and fear of His Punishment.
The eye of the heart, though closed in fallen man, is able to take in a glimmering of light and this is faith.”

   Skihasim: teaches that all human beings are equal and can realise the divine within them through devotion to God, truthful living and service to humanity.
“Bad thoughts cause illness of the mind, body and spirit. Practice optimism”

  Taoism: Achieve inner harmony. Hope requires personal care, nourishment and patience and of growing in potential.
    “Both praise and blame cause concern, for they bring people hope and fear.The object of hope and fear is the self - for, without self, to whom may fortune and disaster occur?”

  Christianity: Try to love the way Jesus loved. Hope for Christians is an essential and fundamental element of Christian life. In the Old Testament Hebrew words such as “Yachal” (“trust) and “towcheleth“ (expectation) are used in verses to mean hope. While in the New Testament the Greek word “elpis” is used more commonly and means “to expect or anticipate with pleasure” Hope here takes a different meaning which is a guarantee, a firm assurance, there is no maybe.
“For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”

   Atheism:  Not all atheists believe in the same things just because they happen to lack a belief in a god. They believe that they have this one life to live and feel that this motivates them to live it to their fullest but it doesn’t mean that they have no hope which has the power to pull them through difficult times.
      “Atheism and anarchist theory were the first things that gave me any hope in this world. They were the things that said we had the power within us to make things better”

I am a Christian but strongly believe that whatever our religion creed or colour we should respect others' beliefs and learn from them especially where hope unifies us. 

 “Hope is necessary in every condition. The miseries of poverty, sickness and captivity would, without this comfort, be insupportable.”   Samuel Johnson

Hope normally comes into play when our circumstances are dire; not going well or there’s considerable uncertainty about how things will turn out particularly when we are ill, in financial trouble,  grieving, or living within an abusive situation. Hope opens us up and removes the fear and despair and allows us to see and feel that everything is maybe not as bad as it is, and will/can improve allowing us to become creative in solutions and have belief in a better future.  As long as you live there is always hope. Every day we hope that we can still wake up to another day and we also hope that what we have planned for that day will happen (although it is advisable to stay flexible – plans change as well as hopes!). 

Another good thing about having hope is that it pushes and motivates us to achieve our goals.

“Keep your heart open to dreams. For as long as there's a dream, there is hope, and as long as there is hope, there is joy in living." Anonymous”

Charles Snyder a specialist in positive psychology determined his own definition of hope and came up with the hope theory:

Goals: “Goals are objects, experiences, or outcomes that we imagine and desire in our minds." goals involving hope fall somewhere between an impossibility and a sure thing

Willpower: “Willpower is the driving force in hopeful thinking” Willpower draws on the perception of our desired goal as well as one’s mental energy. It also depends on how well we understand our goal. 

Waypower: “Waypower reflects the mental plans or road maps that guide hopeful thought”. There are important versus less important goals that play a part in one’s ability to plan through a goal, to map out a plan. Hope is the “mental willpower and waypower for goals”

I am not sure that I understand the above theory but I do agree that with the sense of hope come positive emotions such as happiness and joy, courage, and empowerment and we can aim to bring our hopes to fore by setting goals even if they are step by step daily goals. 

How about false hope? False hope is hope built entirely around a fantasy, a hope that has no knowable chance of coming to fruition like for example you hope for something that can’t be changed like bringing your dog back to life. False hope has enabled people to cheat and exploit others for material gain. You shouldn’t pin your hopes on other people or on things that are improbable like winning the lottery because this kind of hope most likely will cause disappointment. You can also lose hope and lie to yourself. “Lies shatter hope. And the only thing that can destroy lies is Truth”. For example living with extreme poverty is how people in the slums of the world lose hope - the reality of the sounds, smell and feelings of their situation stop them from hoping and dreaming of something better. I read somewhere that “a human can last for forty days without food, a few days without water, eight minutes without oxygen but only a few seconds without hope”.  And it is often said that. “If you lose hope, you lose everything.” But even where everything seems hopeless there is hope as many people around the world unite together to offer help, initiatives and encouragement, urging Governments to give hope to their own people and letting them know that they are not forgotten – it may not seem to be making much of an impact but I believe good will come of it or is that the optimist talking?

“In a world filled with hate, we must still dare to hope. In a world filled with anger, we must still dare to comfort. In a world filled with despair, we must still dare to dream. And in a world filled with distrust, we must still dare to believe.” ― Michael Jackson

Illness reminds us of the fragility of life. With illness, we learn that we are not invincible but hope encourages us to continue moving forward even though we do not know where we are going. Hope is our comfort when we are waiting for test results, waiting for appointments, waiting for symptoms to subside, waiting for healing, waiting for a cure.  And if we get a bad test result, or our illness flares up, symptoms get worse hope is the light that shines on these moments of darkness. Hope knows that not everything has the perfect answer but it has the power to control how you respond to life’s circumstances to persevere, encourages us, and the greatest gift of all to give hope to others.

So what are my hopes and dreams now I am in recovery – well to stay in recovery is one; to regain more of my equilibrium and health (but not overdoing it); to reconnect to all my family as life is too short not too (with mutual understanding and goodwill); but also to understand and be comfortable with the person I am and who I am becoming; that my son will grow into an aspiring, healthy loving strong man; to grow in my faith and finally, like virtually everyone else in the world, to be happy although recognising that along with happiness there is always sadness.  If I have hope then I can give others hope too whether through dialogue, action, support or love. 

 “Hope is the thing with feathers. That perches in the soul, and sings the tune without the words. And never stops at all.” ― Emily Dickinson

Hope is the sunshine that breaks through a dark cloud; Hope is the smile, warmth the laugh out loud
Hope is the love you hold within your heart; Hope is the beginning of a brand new start
Hope is the comfort of a kind word; Hope is the heroes we have in the world
Hope is the wonder to be found from beauty; Hope is the diversity joining in unity
Hope is the promise of a better day; Hope is the wish for another way
Hope is the opportunity that knocks; Hope is the path clear of stony rocks
Hope is the losing before you gain; Hope is the rainbow after the rain
Hope is the thought our sufferings brief; Hope is the growing of our spiritual belief
Hope is the anticipation of looking forward to; Hope is the journey to something new
Hope is the matter of all faith; Hope is the silence that keeps us safe
Hope is the expectation when you are down; Hope is our wings that lift us from the ground
Hope is the chance for us all to share; Hope is the way you begin to care.

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