Monday Musings 8 July: A hopeful heart

Are you a hopeaholic? When the world appears to be falling apart, the roof is leaking, and seasonal affective disorder has set in, how do we find hope that the sun will shine again. Hopelessness can be mild – it could feel as elusive as that extra hour of sleep so badly needed, or as bad as the knowledge that you will never find the proverbial unicorn.

The Oxford Dictionary defines hope as ‘a feeling of expectation and desire for a particular thing to happen’. The word hopeaholic seems to be attributed to socio-political activist, Gloria Steinhem, who used the word at the 2014 Makers Conference.

First, let’s hope the world is not falling apart. Poet Tomás Q. Morín, who has felt eco-anxiety since he was a child, and used writing to process his feelings wrote, “We are capable of collaborative destruction, but we are also capable of collaborative repair.”  Those doing good work and making a difference in the tourism world constantly provide inspiration. They have learnt the value of collaboration, contributing to the preservation of wild spaces and providing a supportive network to empower people. Each of us can also make a difference, and we can usually start in our neighbourhood.

Jane Goodall preaches hope – she even wrote a Book of Hope and in it she says, “Hope is often misunderstood. People tend to think that it is simply passive wishful thinking: I hope something will happen but I’m not going to do anything about it. This is indeed the opposite of real hope, which requires action and engagement.” I feel hopeful as it is through the hope of many that we can and have turned around the extinction of species.

In this podcast, Dr Chan M. Hellman, explains that hope is the belief that our future can be better than our past – and that we can make that future a reality. He says hope is the process towards wellbeing, and that it is a cognitive process not an emotion. Hope is a framework for action, unlike wishing which is passivity towards a goal. Apathy is also the opposite of hope. He bases hope on three simple ideas:

  • Goals – having desirable goals that drive our everyday actions
  • Pathways thinking – the strategies or roadmap to get to our goals and the ways to overcome barriers through problem solving or seeking new pathways
  • Willpower – identified as the motivational piece of hope – the capacity to self-regulate our thoughts, behaviours, and emotions along the way through focused attention and intention on the pathways, especially during times of adversity

Hellman goes on to say that when we nurture hope we see significant improvements in wellbeing, emotional regulation, better coping strategies, more connectedness, improved relationships, improved learning and engagement, and even improved pain tolerance. He reminds us that “hope is the process; the outcome is always wellbeing”.

As an eternal optimist, I am ready to embrace more hope. Perhaps we can start a ‘Hopeaholics Not-So-Anonymous’. Let’s share more good news, take steps that lead to positive change, and grow the swell of hope for a better future. #hopeaholic

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Register for the “Exploring the US Inbound Travel Market Potential for Southern Africa” webinar on 23 July 2024 at 16:00 SAST, hosted by Zapwater Communications. Explore key trends, strategies, and case studies to enhance Southern Africa’s appeal to American travellers.  

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