She clearly didn’t listen to her mom--although to be fair she didn’t technically have a mother since she was created out of clay.
Pandora unleashed all the evils into the world when she opened a box that the Gods told her not to touch. Just as she realized that greed, jealousy, anger, plagues and many other evils were flying out into the world she quickly closed the box, catching one last thing in the box before it escaped. That thing, of course, was hope.
It’s interesting to think that there is a large debate about whether hope was an evil like greed and anger, or something good that was supposed to help off-set the evils of the world. I personally believe that hope is good, as long as it is realistic and not false. Psychologists have been researching hope for years, providing evidence that it is a useful, positive strength that everyone can apply to their lives.
The most popular hope theory, developed by psychologist Rick Snyder, suggests that hope is about having goals for the future and finding ways to sustain your energy and navigate obstacles as you work towards those goals.
We all have goals, whether they are small (“I want to exercise today”) or large (“I want to put more time into my relationship with my partner”). Inevitably, obstacles come in the way of these goals and sometimes we can get off-course. Hopeful people have the mental energy to stay focused on their goals, and they also find avenues to get around obstacles. Sometimes they seek support from others, problem-solve, or tell themselves positive statements to keep them motivated. Sometimes they even modify their goals. Either way, hopeful people are able to pick themselves up and find other ways to tackle their challenges and keep moving ahead. Research also shows us that people who are hopeful are more satisfied with life, have higher academic achievement, and are better able to manage physical and mental health concerns.
The beauty of hope is that we can teach it to others, model it for our kids, and work on building our own hope each day. How many times have you encountered an obstacle on the way to a goal? This is pretty much an hourly occurrence for me. I spill the oatmeal in the morning, I’m running late to drop off the kids, I feel tired after a bad night of sleep, or I’m experiencing conflict with someone. Goals and obstacles are applicable to everyone, and being hopeful gives us a roadmap for how to navigate them.
Below are some exercises you can try to help develop a hopeful outlook:
1. Spend some time each day thinking about your goals. Try to identify the short-term goals that you want to get done that day, as well as the larger goals that you would like to work towards over the next days and weeks. Try to make sure they are realistic but don’t be afraid to dream big as well.
2. Talk with important people in your life about your goals, as well as theirs. Describe the obstacles that are coming up for you and brainstorm ways to support one another as you navigate the challenges.
3. The next time you face an obstacle, pause for a second and recognize it as such, reminding yourself that everyone faces obstacles towards the goals they want to achieve.
4. Consider how you want to model hope to your children. How do you want them to see you handling obstacles? Don’t be afraid to say your hopeful thoughts aloud (for example, “Okay, we can’t find the right building but we are going to ask for help and we’ll be able to find it. It’s going to be fine.”)
5. Periodically review your goals and see which need to be revised. Think carefully about which goals stretch you in positive ways, and which might not be realistic. Remember that part of the joy of hope is that you can adapt and create new goals if you need to!
What tips do you have for other moms who are trying to be more hopeful?
I'm Lisa, a mother and psychologist dedicated to supporting moms. Read more here.
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