Here are five ways to hold on to hope even when despair and hopelessness threatens to overwhelm you. Yes, you can stay hopeful when life seems hopeless!
Everything you do requires hope – starting a business, getting married, sending your kid off to kindergarten or college. Staying hopeful in the midst of doubt and uncertainty is the key to success, and the trick to bouncing back from almost anything.
Holding on to hope when life seems hopeless may be the hardest thing you’ll ever do…and the most important.
My friend Cherie Burbach sent me her book of poems, and this one sentence inspired me to write this article about staying hopeful:
“Deep inside us, there is a small glimmer of hope that burns, no matter how dark the current night.”
This one of my favorite poems in her book, Yes, You. Cherie called the poem “The Soul of a Christian”, but I believe hope burns in all of us regardless of our faith or beliefs. We need to hope.
How to Hold on to Hope When Life Seems Hopeless
Hope is why we survive horrible experiences such as concentration camps, terminal illnesses, loss, abuse, natural disasters, pain, and suffering. Hope is why we’re still here.
Figure out what gives you hope
There are no atheists in a foxhole because faith and spirituality gives us something to lean on. My faith makes me feel protected, loved, and cared for. I don’t care if Christianity isn’t “the way” or if I’ve been fooling myself all along by believing in God. My belief makes me strong, happy, and healthy. I feel connected to the Creator of the Universe, and I believe I will be taken care of no matter what.
That’s what gives me hope: my faith.
What gives you hope? In my first tip for staying hopeful, I said poetry is one of the best ways to hold on to hope. I was wrong. Faith in something bigger and better than you is the best way to live your life. You don’t have to be Christian or even spiritual to have faith in something bigger and better. You don’t have to believe in God to know how to hold on to hope when life seems hopeless…but it sure does help!
Be clear about what you hope for
“Few people know so clearly what they want,” says Barbara Kingsolver. “Most people can’t even think what to hope for when they throw a penny in a fountain.”
Hope is like achieving your goals: the more specific you are, the higher the chances you’ll know how to hold on to hope. What are you hoping for?
In Animal Dreams, Kingsolver also says:
“The very least you can do in your life is to figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under its roof. What I want is so simple I almost can’t say it: elementary kindness. Enough to eat, enough to go around. The possibility that kids might one day grow up to be neither the destroyers nor the destroyed. That’s about it. Right now I’m living in that hope, running down its hallway and touching the walls on both sides.”
One of my best ways to hold on to hope is my spirituality. If your spiritual life needs a boost, read 6 Steps to Spiritual Growth in Christ.
Bury yourself in words of hope
I never thought I’d say this because poems aren’t my thing, but one of the best ways to hold onto hope is to read poetry. Poems (and quotes) about hope have a way of burrowing into your heart and feeding your soul. Poems are concise and targeted – they waste no time getting right to the point.
Hope – a poem by Emily Dickinson
Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune–without the words,
And never stops at all,
And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.
I’ve heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.
What does hope ask of you, other than to let it perch in your soul? One way to hold on to hope when life seems hopeless is to let the gentle weight of it perch on your soul.
Take 10 minutes to feel hopeful and hopeless
Sit in hopelessness for five minutes, and write down how you feel. Then, sit in hope and faith for five minutes and record your feelings.
What perspective feels better? How do you want to live out your moments? Who do you want to be? What’s the difference between choosing hope and choosing despair? You tell me.
“Man can live about forty days without food, about three days without water, about eight minutes without air, but only for one second without hope.” – Unknown.
If you feel hopeless, spend time with people who suffered and survived something similar. Join support groups, talk to people you trust, join online communities, write to loved ones, find healthy ways to find hope when life seems hopeless.
Choose people and activities that show you how to hold on to hope
Keep doing things that make you feel GOOD about your life, goals, plans, and future. Hang out with people who are hoping for the best, who use their hope to fuel their actions. Read books and blogs that inspire you to stay hopeful and faithful, that motivate you to hold on to the hope you have.
Be aware of the words you say. Do you inspire and encourage people to be hopeful?
“When the world says, Give up,
Hope whispers, Try it one more time.”
How will you hold on to your hope when the world is telling you to give up? I welcome your thoughts below. Often, just sharing your feelings of hopelessness helps build hope.
For more tips on holding onto hope, read Words of Comfort When Your Heart is Broken.
If you feel desolate and hopeless, please talk to a counselor. I am not a counselor, and can’t offer personal advice.