What My Son Has Taught Me About Hope
I’ve written about allowing yourself to sit in negative emotions.
I have shared with you the importance of self-care.
I speak for a living about proactively building resilience.
But today…I want to talk about HOPE.
There is a long-established, measurable science around hope. According to the research, high hope individuals do not react in the same way to barriers as low hope individuals, instead they view barriers as challenges to overcome.
In the past I have felt conflicted, wondering if Evan’s story was mine to tell, but as he has gotten older, he has asked me to share his story as a way to help others. He understands the shame and stigma attached to mental illness first hand, and his bravery and courage in allowing me to share his story is one of my proudest accomplishments. Having Evan in my life is the driving force behind my own personal trek toward transformation.
My husband Jay and I recently spent the weekend with Evan at his boarding school in Idaho. It was the best visit we have ever had in the little over a year that he has been there! I felt like my heart might explode with pride, joy, and gratitude.
So what did I do to celebrate? I immediately started thinking about…
What if this new medication doesn’t continue to work?
What if Evan has to work this hard the rest of his life?
When is the next trauma going to happen? When is the other shoe going to drop?
It is important to understand that just like happiness,
triumph comes in the little moments.
Before I even had a chance to feel good about our amazing weekend with Evan and the progress he is making, I was already drowning in worry about all the things that could go wrong.
Then Jay stopped me and said, “Anne, celebrate this time, these moments.” (I hate when he uses my own sh*t on me.)
It is important to understand that just like happiness, triumph comes in the little moments. They may be short-lived, but building resilience means celebrating small wins.
Here are 3 strategies to build resilience with hope:
#1 – Pay Attention to Your Inner Dialogue
Most of our thoughts and behaviors come from how we see ourselves, which affects how we perceive the world. Having hope means that you believe your future can be better than your past, and you play a role in making it so. Remember, your brain believes what you tell it. What are you saying to yourself about yourself? Is it getting you the results you want? If not, how can you change your inner dialogue to make it more productive? Your brain can’t always make the leap from negative to positive, but it can go from negative to realistic. Rather than, “I just can’t do this anymore”, try “It is what it is. I’ve made it this far. I’ll figure it out.”
#2 – Share in Other’s “Delicious Moments”
When you celebrate a delicious moment, it feels even better knowing you have other people celebrating alongside you, and on the flip side, when you join in the joy of someone else’s good fortune, you get what’s called a “Helper’s High”. Your brain releases serotonin and dopamine, which make you feel warm and tingly inside. One study shows that human brains are actually hard-wired for empathy and generosity. I shared the joy of our weekend with you guys, and the love, comments, and support has been overwhelming. Not only did I feel flooded with joy, but the hundreds of people who took time to comment shared in that joy. Things aren’t always peachy, but when you’re down, you can bring yourself by back up by paying it forward and supporting others.
#3 – Cultivate Hopeful Habits
The goal of cultivating hopeful habits is to continually bring ourselves back to what matters most in our lives. Use “Mind Over Moment” as a tool to utilize the idea of mindfulness to become aware of your thoughts and feelings in the moment, in order to steer yourself toward better responses and outcomes. Decide what you want and don’t be afraid to be hopeful to get there. Being hopeful about the future builds resilience and gives you yet another tool for handling stress, change, and adversity. You may have heard that “hope” is not a strategy. I disagree. Not only is hope a strategy, it’s a habit. We don’t rise to the level of our intentions. We fall to the level of our habits.
Make no mistake, holding on to hope is not always easy. Evan has been in some sort of therapy since he was 11-months-old. Since the age of 4, we have tried almost 50 medications. We make progress, get hopeful, and then feel shattered when things fall apart. Evan is now 16-years-old, and we have ridden this roller coaster over and over again. Last weekend we had the most amazing visit, and Evan was better than I’ve ever seen him. My heart has been exploding with hope. And while I know we will continue to ride this coaster, holding on to hope is necessary for resilience.
Hope is not measured by how you are feeling during the worst of times; rather, it involves acknowledging that something good is yet to come. Build hope, share in the hope of others, and take time to celebrate delicious moments.
We live in a world where we are bombarded with information, saturated with stimulation, and overloaded with deadlines, tasks, and deliverables. Demanding schedules, competing priorities, and a never ending list of to-do’s have made stress and burnout common place. Stress is the leading cause of heart disease, depression, anxiety, diabetes, high blood pressure, and a whole host of other ailments, and it has literally become a public health epidemic.
Resilience Training & Productivity
The good news is that research has found a way to help combat the many challenges associated with stress, and companies that practice this are more productive, more profitable, and higher performing as a result. More and more organizations are turning to resilience training to help their employees manage stress, navigate change, and overcome obstacles and setbacks.
Resilience Is A Skill That Can Be Learned
Resilience is not a personality trait but rather a set of skills and habits that can be developed and honed, and there are skills, behaviors, and attitudes that can be learned. For example, research has consistently shown a link between job satisfaction and the degree to which managers express gratitude to employees. Gratitude affects your brain at a neurological level, producing serotonin and dopamine (the brain’s feel good neurotransmitters), and reduces cortisol (our stress & “fight or flight” response). Practicing mindfulness has been found to significantly impact and improve the part of the brain responsible for memory, attention, and emotional regulation.
One size does not fit all. Learn a ton of cool ways to build your courage resilience.
This is a resilience revolution, and it starts with you!
Anne Grady is a Speaker, Author, and #TruthBomb Dropper.
Anne shares practical strategies that can be applied both personally and professionally to improve relationships, navigate change, and triumph over adversity. And she’ll make you laugh while she does it. Anne is a two time TEDx speaker, and her work has been featured in numerous media outlets, including Harvard Business Review, Entrepreneur, Forbes, Fast Company and Inc. magazines, CNN, ESPN, and FOX Business. She is the best selling author of 52 Strategies for Life, Love & Work and Strong Enough: Choosing Courage, Resilience and Triumph.