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Gratitude and Hope

“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person.
Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.”—Albert Schweitzer

Throughout history and in times of uncertainty, such as with the current pandemic, the hope of accomplishing personal and professional goals diminishes significantly. As a result, the overwhelming obstacles to achieving goals leave many people experiencing greater negative emotions and a decrease in life satisfaction and well-being.

What is Hope?
The seminal work of Charles “Rick” Snyder in Hope Theory defines hope as the positive cognitive appraisal of intrapersonal assets and motivations as well as external factors when pursuing a desired goal. Another definition is “the ability to produce pathways to desired goals and the motivation to use those pathways.” A component of hope theory includes how an individual bounces back after a setback or remains stuck and feeling hopeless. Those who develop a “high-hope” mindset are able to consider alternative pathways to achieving their goal or choose alternative goals. This type of cognitive reappraisal offers another form of coping when accomplishing desired goals and challenged or obstructed.

How to Become More Hopeful
With the end of the year quickly approaching you may be thinking back to goals you, your family or coworkers set at the beginning of 2020. At that time, you were probably excited, feeling hopeful and ready to take steps toward reaching your goals. Perhaps you had a goal to strengthen a relationship, take a long-awaited family vacation, go for that promotion, or achieve greater health and well-being. And, while the hope you felt for future goal attainment may have dimmed, research also affirms that practicing gratitude creates hope, optimism, and is considered one of the strongest predictors of life satisfaction (among adults in the U.S).

Expanding your awareness of gratefulness in your life can serve as a means to overcome feelings of hopelessness for those goals, dreams, and aspirations that seem out of reach or significantly delayed. Known for building resilience and offering significant coping techniques, practicing gratitude can minimize the frustration and angst over the current circumstances. Gratitude can give you HOPE!

Gratitude Action Step
Consider each of the steps below and set a goal to practice gratitude and create greater hope and resilience.
1) Schedule one day a week to reflect on how often (the frequency) you felt grateful over the past week. Track the actual number.
2) Write down Three Good Things that went well each day for a week and write down who helped create this positive occurrence.
3) Decide what response you will use to express your gratitude to this person or people – a hand-written thank you note, calling them on the phone, Facetime, etc. Set a date to deliver the message.
4) Set a date and invite someone involved in one of your goals to take these same steps with you.

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