Expert Advice: How Do I Find Hope?
Even the darkest days will eventually see the dawn.
With everything life throws at you, it’s easy to lose faith in the future. But there are plenty of ways to get your sense of wonder back. Here, our experts share simple ways to spark joy and find hope for tomorrow.
Meet our expert panel
- Crystal I. Bryce, PhD, is a hope researcher and Associate Professor of Medical Education at The University of Texas at Tyler School of Medicine.
- Jennifer Teramoto Pedrotti, PhD, studies the intersection between multiculturalism and well-being at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.
- Cyndie Spiegel, author of Microjoys: Finding Hope (Especially) When Life Is Not Okay, as well as A Year of Positive Thinking, is an inspirational speaker.
Begin with awareness.
Hopelessness is often an overwhelming mix of multiple emotions, which is why it’s key to try to identify exactly what you’re feeling, says expert Crystal I. Bryce, PhD. “Is it fear, dread, helplessness? When I moved to a new town, everything that could go wrong did, and I felt all of those things at once.” But once she identified each feeling, she was able to find ways to ease them — from reaching out to neighbors to asking friends for advice. Says Bryce, “This helps you feel more in control and less stressed about what’s to come.”
Take a tiny step forward.
They may seem interchangeable, but optimism and hope are quite different. “While optimism simply means having a positive mindset, hope is action-oriented,” explains Bryce. When you’re feeling hopeless about a situation, ask yourself, What is one tiny thing I can do about it right now? For example, if you’re worried about finances, clip a few coupons or research moneysaving tips. “Taking action — no matter how small — helps counteract that sense of despair.”
Seek out ‘savor-ors.’
Finding comfort in connection is the cornerstone of hope, says expert Jennifer Teramoto Pedrotti, PhD. She suggests seeking “savor-ors,” people who relish joy and who will amplify yours. “I have one friend I can’t wait to tell things to when something good happens because I know she’s going to bounce that good energy back onto me.” Just being around someone who savors positive experiences can help you feel more hopeful yourself.
View the world with wonder.
Hope is triggered by “doing,” which is why it helps to go looking for it, urges expert Cyndie Spiegel. “Spot small joys by putting on your ‘wonder goggles,’” she says. “I live near a schoolyard, and I know if I walk by and hear the kids laughing and playing, I’ll feel better.” Finding moments of bliss doesn’t require leaving home. “Anything from your pet to your favorite novel can spark joy, which is a powerful way to rediscover hope.”
Look to your family tree.
The most hopeful people take strength from the past, particularly their family’s story. “I look to my own Japanese-American background,” shares Teramoto Pedrotti. “My father’s family was in the internment camps during World War II, and when I feel hopeless, I remind myself I come from people who got through challenging times,” Identifying your “hope heroes” can boost your resilience.
Consider simple rituals.
“Anything you do day-to-day that you can rely on in an unreliable world will help you stay hopeful,” says Spiegel, who encourages simple “hope rituals” like having a cup of tea every morning. She also recommends adopting a simple mantra. “I have a sticky note on my computer that reads ‘This too shall pass.’ It applies to the good times, the not-so-good and the downright tragic, and reminds me there is always hope.”
A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.