By: Alicia Rodio
Hope as defined by the Cambridge Dictionary (2015) is "the feeling that something desired can be had or will happen." Sometimes it is hard to have hope, especially during a time of darkness when you are looking for that light. There are nights you may go to bed thinking about how much you have on your "to do" list for the next day and wonder how you are going to get it all done. At the end of the next day, perhaps you completed some of the tasks, but were unable to complete all of them. That can be very frustrating and cause someone to feel hopeless. At times like this, it is difficult to see or foster hope. There are techniques you could put into practice to try to find hope when experiencing a trying time. It may not work every time and it may take practice; however, it may be worth trying to better your quality of life.
Karyn Hall (2015) cited ways to find hope when experiencing a difficult time. The author suggested: looking for a clear path, seeking out a role model who may have dealt successfully with a similar situation, doing what you are able, performing acts of kindness, relying on and using your faith, and practicing mindfulness. After reading the article, I thought the ideas might be useful.But how do you go about incorporating them into your own life?
Looking for a clear path may be difficult in times of struggle. It may mean sitting down and reflecting on what is a roadblock for what you want to achieve. Then, trying to find a way to remove those roadblocks and making a flexible plan to achieve your goal.
Finding a role model coordinates with the clear path. Do you know someone who has dealt with a similar situation and has succeeded in clearing the path? Seek out that person's advice. Perhaps some of what the person said will be useful to you or you can adjust the person's suggestions to address your own needs. Use those suggestions to make your plan. Achieving a goal often leads to a sense of great hope.
Doing what you are able means do not put extra pressure on yourself to do tasks for which you are not ready. Do not set yourself up to fall. Be kind and gentle with yourself. Set realistic goals. Sometimes in difficult times, one of the best things we can do for ourselves is return to our "normal routine". That may seem small or as if it will not change anything; however, setting up a routine allows you to do the things you are able to do successfully and may help clear your mind for dealing with the additional roadblocks. Often having structure in our lives assists in clearing our minds without even realizing it. Did you ever feel that you just want to return to your normal routine after experiencing something difficult? There is safety and reassurance in having structure.
Were you ever the recipient of even a small act of kindness? For example, over the summer, I went to a drive through at a coffee shop and the person in front of me paid for my coffee because she told the cashier she felt she cut me off in line. I did not think that she did, but I found it so kind that she would do that and I paid for the person behind me. I like to think that it continued. Receiving a random act of kindness often makes one feel like doing one. An act of kindness could be as simple as smiling at someone and saying hello. Perhaps that person was having a bad day and you gave that person some hope. You may and probably will never know what your random acts of kindness do for people, but in the end, does that matter? A random act of kindness may not make a difference to someone or it may make a great difference, but doing it cannot hurt. I have heard people who carry around extra gloves, hats and scarves in the winter and give them to people on the streets. It may seem small, but it's important to their physical safety and you have done something wonderful.
When feeling hopeless, look to your faith. There are many ways to incorporate this into your lives, more than I can possibly write about in this article. You could use prayer to ask for help, guidance, strength or whatever you need. Prayer is such an integral part of life during difficult and good times. You could seek out the counsel of your Rabbi or the support of people in your congregation. Most likely you will find someone who has experienced something similar to you. You could attend services on the Sabbath. You could get involved in the congregational community. There are so many ways faith is important.
Being mindful is a phrase we often hear these days. Mindfulness has become one of those buzz words for people who are seeking clarity and hope. There are many ways to practice mindfulness and it differs for each person what will work for you. Some suggestions are: meditation, yoga, take a walk and so many more. Pause for a moment and think about an activity that allows you to be present and focus on that particular activity. Being present in that moment and focusing on what you are doing can often clear your mind which may result in creating a sense of hope in the darkest of days.
I will leave you with a beautiful quote on which you could reflect and practice mindfulness. "There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it" statedEdith Wharton (Brainy Quote, n.d.)
Brainy Quotes. (n.d.). Light Quotes. Retrieved from:http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/light.html on November 4, 2015.
Cambridge Dictionaries Online. (2015). Hope. Retrieved from:http://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/hope on November 4, 2015.
Hall, K. (2015). Finding Hope. Retrieved from:https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/pieces-mind/201504/finding-hope on November 4, 2015.
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Amy Small, LICSW, is the new Kesher social worker at the synagogue. Kesher is the congregational outreach program of Jewish Family Service of Rhode Island, funded by the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island, and currently active at Congregation Agudas Achim, Temple Torat Yisrael, Temple Am David, Temple Emanu-El and Congregation Beth Sholom. Amy may be reached at email@example.com or