There are many times in life where I’ve had to find a way to be hopeful again whenever life got me down.
Perhaps that’s just the journey of life. Maybe we’ll all encounter moments where we have to find the strength pick ourselves back up and move forward.
But it can feel incredibly difficult when you’ve had bad break after bad break, and it just seems like nothing will ever go your way.
As I researched on hope, I discovered a psychologist named Martin Seligman was the founder of a theory known as “learned helplessness”.
He subjected animals to difficult situations they couldn’t control and they would eventually stop trying to escape. The animals would choose to be passive.
The same is the case when we as humans are subjected to difficult situations. We all experience crushing defeats in life.
We face situations that we can’t change or scary moments that we were unable to prevent being exposed to.
Despite how challenging it may feel, it is possible to regain your hope for the future and get back to living again.
What is hope?
To find it again, it's important to understand what hope is in the first place. Merriam-Webster defines hope as a "desire with expectation of obtainment or fulfillment."
We can hope for a lot of things in life. I've hoped for happiness in my relationships, abundance in my finances, and overall fulfillment in life.
But sometimes we lose sight of what we really want. Sometimes we stop feeling good and become uninterested in having desires.
You may wonder if there's any point if you only believe you'll be disappointed and hurt again.
Why it's important to find hope
Did you know that feeling hope can actually be good for your body? Hope causes your brain to release endorphins which creates a similar effect as morphine.
Independent Scholar Terry Smalls argues that when you experience that effect, you’re more able to overcome difficulties in your life.
He suggests one of the best ways we can create a sense of hope is through positive stories.
You can take time to read these inspirational comeback stories start jumpstarting your hopefulness again.
How can we find hope again?
Now that you know what hope is and why it's important to find it, here are some different ways you can rediscover it in your life again.
1. Believe you can achieve your goals
A study found that having hope is generally associated with agency thinking. Agency thinking is defined as the motivation to pursue goals and the belief in one’s ability to achieve them.
So basically, you can create hope within yourself through giving yourself motivation for pursuing your goals and believing you can accomplish them.
Here are two articles that can help you with doing both:
2. Reflect on past success
Research from The Journal of Positive Psychology found that when people wrote about past experiences where something they hoped for came true, their hope and happiness increased.
Take time to reflect on the things that have gone well for you in your recent and distant past. It can remind you that things haven’t always been bad and that they can always be good again.
3. Practice prayer or meditation
A Wall Street Journal Article on The Science of Prayer points out that scientists have discovered prayer helps to give people a hopeful feeling.
Similarly, science has shown meditation can help make you happier and thus allow you to feel more hopeful feelings.
If you haven’t tried it as much lately, take time to pray or meditation to increase your hope.
4. Use uncertainty as a tool
Feeling uncertain about the future doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing. In fact, it may be just the thing to bring about more hopefulness.
Parents of children with multiple sclerosis used the fact that not much is known about the disease to give them hope their child may have been misdiagnosed and could fully recover.
If individuals in such a difficult and uncertain situation can manage to harness hope out of it, we can too. We may not know what the future holds, but the beauty of not knowing is that it leaves open the possibility that something good could happen.
5. Focus on the positive
If you constantly look at images of people who are sad, you’re likely going to feel sad. But if you consistently look at images of people who are happy, you’ll likely feel happier and more hopeful.
6. Be creative
Believe it or not, creativity is actually linked to having hope. Researchers concluded that composite hope accurately predicted the creativity of an employee.
But why is it creativity is associated with hope? Some believe it’s because people who are creative have a belief there’s more than one way to achieve one’s desires.
A willingness to be open to multiple different possibilities of making something to work can help you to feel more hope about your circumstances.
7. Find humor
A Texas A&M University study concluded that humor may be effect in significant increasing a person’s level of hope.
When participants watched a 15 minute comedy video, their score of hopefulness increased significantly higher than those who didn’t watch.
Sometimes you just need to find something to laugh at to lighten your emotions and allow yourself to feel hope again.
Science has proven that keep a community of support around you can help develop and maintain hope in your circumstances.
One study found that parents maintained hope through avoiding people who were negative towards them seeking a positive end.
Another study on hope among people trying to bring change in society were able to feel hopeful through being connected with their community.
9. Come up with a clear path
We all need some kind of understanding that the steps we’re taking are ones that can lead to the change we desire. Knowing that helps to give us hope things will get better.
It’ll be difficult to feel motivated to stick to your goals if you’re unable to logically see how the steps you’re taking can lead to a positive outcome.
Start writing down actions you need to start taking daily to get your life together.
10. Find role models who’ve found solutions to your problems
In the history of human existence, hundreds, thousands, and perhaps millions of people have found ways to overcome extreme adversity.
Look for stories on people who got through the challenges you’re dealing with. Find a support group where people can give you encouragement which will help to increase your hope.
If you’re having issues with your mental well-being, here’s some information on where you can find support groups.
You might also enjoy visiting Project Hope Exchange. They have a page where you’ll find people have recorded times they overcame adversity related to life challenges and mental challenges.
11. Do what you can
A good way to break your sense of powerlessness is do something outside of your normal routine.
You can cook dinner, talk to friends, or just simply make your bed. You can take steps that are easy for you to do and see how the actions improve your life.
Once you start successfully doing one thing consistently, it’ll help to build up confidence to do more things.
12. Try some mindfulness
These mental habits will only create more hopelessness in your life. When we feel down in life, it’s difficult for us to focus on positive events or remember times that we were once happy.
Put your attention towards the present moment of what you’re feeling. Focus on your breath and all the sensations of your body.
Here are some free online mindfulness courses that can help you out.
13. Do acts of kindness
Believe it or not, performing kind actions for others can improve your outlook on life and boost your mood
You can look into organizations like The World Kindness Movement to inspire you to be kinder.
14. Lean on your faith
Faith has helped people to have hope throughout human history. Trusting a higher power is helping you can give you a sense that you’re not alone.
In moments you find yourself doubting or questioning your beliefs, find a member of your faith whom you respect and talk with them.
It might help to resolve any doubts you have and give you more hope.
15. Read positive news
I’ve mentioned this tip in a previous article, but it’s just as relevant to this article as well.
When you’re constantly draining yourself with all the bad news in the world, you make it harder to feel hopeful.
No matter how much bad stuff is happening now, there’s always some good happening in the world that can inspire us.
In fact, there’s plenty of websites out there that only share those types of good new stories.
Here's one example. U.S. Marshalls announced they found 39 children who had gone missing in an operation known as “Operation Not Forgotten”.
So often when a child goes missing, it’s hard to find them again or it usually ends in tragedy.
The fact that 39 were found again is almost a miracle. Great things like this happen every day, and you can be inspired to have hope that great things will happen in your life too.
Here's where you can find more good news stories.
16. Watch some motivational videos
Sometimes hearing a motivating voice or seeing a motivational story can help us to feel more hope in life.
From time to time, I used to like watching videos by motivational speakers like Les Brown or Zig Ziglar.
If motivational speakers aren’t your thing, another motivational video I’ve enjoyed watching often is one on famous failures.
Find a video based on your interests that can motivate you. Maybe there’s one on a successful football player, or one on a successful fashion designer.
The more a video can personally relate to you, the more it can motivate you and give you a sense of optimism for the future.
17. Chase your dreams
When you’re chasing after dreams, it can fill you with hope that one day you’ll make those dreams happen.
I’ve had dreams of being a successful songwriter, and I still have hope that maybe someday I’ll write a song that’s enjoyed all over the world.
What are your dreams in life? Maybe now’s the time to start thinking about how to go after those dreams. It could spark the hope that you’ve been looking for in life.
18. Make small progress
It’s easy to feel hope when you see yourself making progress at something. I think about my weightlifting that I've done regularly in the past.
Each week, I was able to lift a larger weight than I did the last week.
It made me feel hope that I'd continue to get stronger and bigger. Maybe for you, your progress could be in something that you want to get better at, such as playing the guitar or learning how to cook
If you put in the time to do those things regularly, there’s a good chance you’ll eventually make progress, and that will give you some hope that you can become really good at it.
Final thoughts on how we hope in hard times
When we think about what hope there is in the world, it can be easy for us to think there is none. But life doesn’t have to be a hopeless situation.
The history of humankind has shown us that despite hard times, we can find a renewal of optimism and move forward with greater joy than ever before.
You can try experiencing some hopefulness through doing one or all of the things that I've listed. Be encouraged and inspired to believe that the world can get better and your life can be more joyful today.