Illuminate with hope

Illuminate with hope

When do we banish hope? When we’ve strenuously done everything we could with no result, when our repeated actions begin to resemble the oxen’s under the yoke. That’s when our spirits droop and the grayness of depression settles in.  

Ah no, it’s precisely the time to allow hope to gently rock us in her cradle and softly fill us with rich, soothing, practical messages:

*  Having done your best, relax.
*  When you’ve given your all, the results don’t count; your state of tranquil satisfaction does.
*  With your action, you’ve put something useful and precious in the world. Trust that it makes a difference even if you don’t get to see it.
*  Remember, there’s a larger picture. Celebrate that you were instrumental in contributing to it. As Nelson Henderson says, “The true meaning of life is to plant trees under whose shade you do not expect to sit.”
Hope enlarges our capacity for paying attention and taking action when required. And lets us rest in a state of contented surrender when the singing birds are silent. Hope is a lifeline in an illness or loss, it bridges darkness and daylight. It’s worth installing in us a switch to flood a room with light.
Here are some time-honoured ways to flood yourself with luminous hope :
*  When in a tough spot, ask, “Can I change this situation?” Two hope-fostering answers: 1.“Not yet.” It keeps a window open. 2. “If the Universe needs it.” It’s comforting to feel part of a bigger, extremely capable process.       
*  Next, build your inner strength and a keen sense of aliveness with this exercise: Think of any useful object in your everyday life and how several forces worked harmoniously to bring it about. Say, the humble pencil. The rain and sun helped a seed grow into a tree.
The woodcutters felled the tree. The workers shaped the wood and bored a hole through its middle. The entrepreneurs manufactured the lustrous graphite, moulded and slipped it into the wooden rod. The packers, transporters, retailers made it available. Thank each natural force, person, system that brought this useful pencil into your life. You can do this exercise with a medicine, mobile, magazine… Realize you’re a link in this harmonious chain and, indeed, have completed it by buying from the retailer… And herald in the sweetness of belonging, gratitude… hope.   
*  Talk of troubling events positively, always envisioning good outcomes. Understand, perceiving positives, even ‘positive illusions’ neither denies the pain nor creates ‘false hopes’, but helps compose a sense of coherence amidst chaos. This profoundly influences our health, mental faculties and physical functioning— if it has been impaired.
*  Continue working on purposeful activities. When successes, even small ones, come about, hope smiles widely, whispering, “It will happen in other fields too.”

  Hope enriches the present with possibilities. Hope keeps away self-pity, cynicism, hostility and enables a huge freedom from suffering. Simple things - a hot shower, haircut, regular meals, getting glasses with the right number-- boost our life-skills. Brisk walking and playing vigorously raise mood-elevating endorphins. So does giving. Sometimes, a little sharing lights up the biggest part of another’s heart. Hope awakens.

Let the bud of optimistic hope always flower in you. An old Chinese proverb goes: ‘Keep the green bough of hope in your heart. The singing birds will come.’