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Join us as we chat with Kim Forrester; an award winning author, holistic well-being educator, and consultant. As we look forward to the new year, already finding ways to be hopeful may feel a bit overwhelming. Kim shares her top 4 ways to boost hope in 2022.
Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.
Every New Year, most of us take the opportunity to activate our sense of hope, look forward with optimism, and assert to ourselves that next year is going to be ‘the best yet’. However, when times are tough (I’m looking at you 2020, 2021) it can feel a lot harder to feel optimistic the future. Instead, it can seem that hope is a luxury that we simply cannot afford.
However, the truth is that hope is not just a pleasant mindset – it’s actually great for the health of our bodies, minds, and souls. And the good news is that hope can be learned and is highly contagious!
If you’re finding it a bit challenging to feel hopeful about 2022, know you’re not alone. To help you out, I’ve come up with four simple tools that can help you reactivate your optimism, re-engage your hope, and boost your inner well-being:
- Focus on what you can control
- Practice ‘Learned’ Optimism
- Seek out hopeful people
- Take action
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Focus only on what you can (realistically) control
The sense that we can control life has been a part of the human psyche for hundreds of years and, for most of us, it has become an unconscious birthright. However, this concept is pure fallacy. We are never, ever going to be in full control of our life; we have no right to control others, we have no ability to control external events. What we do have, at all times, is the power to take charge of our actions, reactions and decisions. As the popular Serenity Prayer urges us, a hopeful life comes from having the wisdom to recognise the things we can change, and finding the courage to put those changes into action.
Practice ‘Learned Optimism’
Established by Positive Psychology pioneer, Martin Seligman, learned optimism is an excellent way to short-circuit any negativity and develop more hope for the future. Also known as the ‘ABCDE’ practice, there are five quick and simple elements to Seligman’s learned optimism.
- Firstly, recognise the Activating event – what is the situation or event that has triggered a sense of fear, pessimism, or anxiety?
- Next, acknowledge your ingrained Beliefs about the situation. What beliefs do you have about the situation that are leading you to predict a negative outcome? For example, you may automatically believe that people always let you down, or that bad outcomes are inevitable, or that you are not equipped to cope with adversity.
- Whatever beliefs you hold, the next step is to recognise the Consequences of your mindset. Have you become pessimistic, unwilling to attempt new things, unable to see the point of responsible action? Are you angry, depressed, or apathetic?
- Now, importantly, Dispute your beliefs! Could you be wrong about what the future holds? Might it be that another, unexpectedly positive outcome occurs? Are your past experiences distorting what you believe is possible in your future? Almost always, with a little effort, it is entirely possible to confront unhelpful and unhopeful beliefs and gently choose other viewpoints.
- Finally, notice how Energized you become when you’re armed with new and optimistic beliefs. That energy is positive feedback from your brain and body that you are choosing more nourishing thoughts.
Seek out hopeful people and organisations
Studies show that hope is contagious! So, if you need some support in becoming (or remaining) optimistic about the future, seek out the people and institutions that are willing to share their hope with you. There are multiple organisations around the world dedicated to spreading hopeful and uplifting stories (try Positive News UK, Goodable, Bright Vibes, Gives Me Hope, etc.,) and there are sure to be people in your environment who are able to see a bright and hopeful future. Seek out these positive influences and allow yourself to be lifted by what you see, read, and hear in these spaces.
Take hopeful action
Embed hope into your psyche by taking positive and inspired action. Do something big, do something small – it really doesn’t matter as long as the action is based in hope and optimism. Most importantly, when you feel hopeful, live that hope out loud. Speak openly about your optimism for the future, emanate a hopeful attitude, and inspire others to become more hopeful, too.
As we step into another year, I invite you to start 2022 with a hopeful attitude. It’s great for you, it’s uplifting for the people around you and, with a little effort, it’s totally within your grasp.
Kim Forrester is an award-winning author, holistic well-being educator, and consultant. She blends science with spiritual philosophy to inspire fullness of living, and regularly contributes to well-being and lifestyle publications all over the world. She is the producer-host of the Eudaemonia podcast, on which she explores the traits and practices that help us flourish in life.
Follow Kim on Instagram, @iamkimforrester