An Ideal of Hope

The dictionary describes hope as a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.  An Ideal is described as satisfying one’s conception of what is perfect; most suitable. In conclusion, it is safe to say that when you combine those two words together you “have an expectation and desire for what is most suitable for yourself.” Author Julie Neraas describes Hope in this way,

“Indeed, hope, while necessary to our well-being, can exist with equal strength within religious traditions and outside of them.

Hope is compelling because it is universal. It crosses all human boundaries: age, race, class, gender, ethnicity, and religious, political, or any other persuasion. Everyone needs it, and almost everyone exhibits at least some measure of hope if they have made it as far as this day.” 

But it simply isn’t enough to just “wish” for something to happen. Hope is important because hope involves the will to get there, and different paths for you to take. Life can be difficult and that shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. Yet, hope allows you to keep going down different roads, to see things differently, and to try and make things for your perfect ideal. This holds true, even when there seems like there isn’t a solution. In fact, the word “hope” is in the definition of the word “faith”. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Furthermore, Faith without works is dead. Meaning, if you simply wish on something to happen, but do nothing to work toward it, then it is of no use. In order for us to fulfill our Ideal of Hope, we have to take action with our hope. 

Fulfilling our Ideal of Hope looks different for different people. Sometimes, this is a practice that we do without even realizing it. For example, when you “hope to pass an exam”, you don’t just take the quiz without studying. We study and put in the amount of work necessary. We research and memorize information. Then, we “hope” to retain all of that information when it comes time to take the exam. Another example. “I hope I get this job.” It would be quite unusual to just show up unprepared to an interview. We research the company, put on our best dress and put the finishing touches on our resumes. Right before the interview, we “hope” that everything we did to prepare will land us this job. In both those examples, we apply actions to our hope because we know that just by hoping for something and yet taking no action has little to no effect. The same goes for our perfect Ideal of Hope for our lives. We study, we put in the time, we research. We stay dedicated and motivated by our goals and dreams by keeping a clear image in our heads of what we want. Further, we translate those dreams and ideas into action. Hope allows us to approach problems with a proactive, positive mindset, and increase our chances of success. It aids in overall well-being and is an effective buffer to stress. 

It is easiest to have hope when things are going well in your life. It’s when life gets difficult that we need to utilize hope the most. Here are some ways to practice hope. 

First, we must keep in mind that hope is active, it is something we do rather than something we have. If you find yourself in a situation that you would like to turn around, get out and start doing something about it. Put some action behind your hope. For example; if you want to learn a new language, download an app. If you can’t physically go to school, look into online classes.

Second, surround yourself with positive uplifting people that are out to better themselves and the world. There is a proverb that says “As Iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Meaning this: If a knife is blunt, it continues to be a knife. It just isn’t as effective as it could be. When you start to polish and sharpen the knife, it becomes more useful in the ways it was intended to be used. In that same manner is why we need to surround ourselves with positive and uplifting people. To help us stay sharp and motivated. To keep us with a positive attitude toward our Ideal of Hope. Ultimately, we must take part in helping to keep our preverbal knife from getting blunt.

Thirdly, make a list of possibilities. Plan short-term goals to change what you can and take steps to move closer to the outcomes you hope for. Do this while continuing to trust that things will work out if you continually take steps toward your goals. This is a good way to practice because it starts you off one step at a time. Your Ideal of Hope may be something huge for yourself or even something minuscule. Regardless, it might require just more than one step. Making a list and starting from step one is an action. It is getting you to realize, on paper, what must be done to accomplish your dream. Following, one by one, you can start applying your actions to your hope an idea d start crossing your short-term goals off of your list.

“Just as despair can come to one only from other human beings, hope, too, can be given to one only by other human beings.” ⁃Elie Weisel 

When hope is damaged it affects more than one person. When real hope is denied it is hard to replace. When a person has lost hope it can be hard to find motivation again. All of these statements hold true. The most important impact we have on each other is through how we affect each other’s hopes. Hope breeds hope. When hope exists, we engage with our environment more. We devote more of ourselves to what we do – as does everyone else around us. Hope engages our creativity and our problem-solving skills. Sometimes, we may be called upon to help someone keep their hope alive. That is a noble thing to do; when we help others remain hopeful, we, in turn, see that we are constantly motivating ourselves to stay hopeful as well. Being a positive influence on the world around you will inspire and motivate people to stay hopeful in their goals. They will realize that things may not be as bad as they may appear. It will help others to keep up with their actions applied to their hopes. Each one of us has the capacity to influence each other to stay hopeful. “Where there is Hope, there is life. It fills us with fresh courage and makes us strong again.” – Anne Frank. The capacity to hope is an indispensable human quality; even in times of crisis when confidence and trust have been broken, hope sustains us in our living.

I encourage you to be helpful and hopeful towards one another. You never know just how much you may change someone’s life.