The Problem of Hope

Hope is a strange thing.  You grow up saying “I hope I make the team” or “I hope that I get that job”, but hope can mean so much more and can be applied in many different situations.  Looking at the definition of hope, it reads “a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.: ‘he looked through her belongings in the hope of coming across some information’, ‘I had high hopes of making the Olympic team’ and “a feeling of trust’”.  Trust, hope, aspiration, expectation and goal are all in the same category, but why do you have such fleeting feelings when it comes to hope?

Is it because, as a child, your hopes were dashed because you did not get what you wanted for Christmas?  The sudden absence of a parent or close friend?  Promises made and broken?  What kinds of disappointments get into your mind and affect your life for years to come?  Can you actually take control of those “negative triggers” in your mind?

It is amazing how events piled upon more events, create your personality.  Some call it “being shaped by your environment”.  How can you take the reigns or wrestle away the control from your environment and move your life in a positive direction?

This is a gap because when hope leaves, there is emptiness. It can be easily filled with the wrong things.  It can even be filled with the need for isolation.  But if you are wanting to properly fill this gap, it needs to be filled with a “positive”; a habit that does not destroy you, but builds upon you.

Many have filled it with reading the Bible, exercise, writing, learning a new skill, etc., many times to excess, but it all relates to how you deal with failure.  If you go in a negative direction after a negative event, you have filled your personal gap but sometimes made it even worse.  And many times, that negative direction creates negative attention towards yourself.

Realization of this habit or “gap filling” is half of the answer.  When you realize that you are creating a negative pattern by your own actions, you can actually seek to direct your reactions, one by one.  Can you direct all of your negative patterns?  Probably not, but deciding to do nothing is still a decision and will eventually take you further down the negative pattern.  Sometimes, realization is what is needed…with an alternate path waiting to be taken.

Here is an exercise to leave you with.  It is not easy and you may struggle with it.  Take your negative end result and work backwards from it, numbering each event that led up to it.  Look at each event with the possibility of “What would have happened if I would have responded differently?”.  The key to this exercise is to be thorough, so just take one event at a time and be honest with yourself.

Afterwards, add a comment, disagree, scream at the blog, whatever…just realize where your reactions take you.

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Who are you choosing to be?

Recently, someone said “you are the sum of the five people you spend the most time with”. Now, for some of us, this can be a scary thought. What if you spend most of your time with your children, does that mean that you are the epitome of those children, all rolled up into one mass of terror? Sometimes, you do not have the luxury of choosing who you you work with…so does that mean that you are doomed to be the conglomerate of your closest five co-workers?

Now before you start getting all negative about your future, let’s examine something. For someone to be influenced, there has to be an influencer. That person would be called a leader in some circles. If you look at that person, why are they influencing others? or why are they doing the influencing? Is it because they set out from the beginning of every day, to influence others rather than be influenced? In some rare cases that may be true, but those “spawnings” of influence usually do not last long…and there is a good reason. They are like seeds that sprouted on a rock, only to find that there was no ground under them; nothing under them to support them. Their influence needs something to root itself into; some solid ground to grasp.

The influencer has a foundation and it usually was birthed early in their life but sometimes it was created later on, having such a profound impact that it became a formed habit. The influencer can be good causing everyone around them to be better, or bad making sure that no one can infringe on their turf. Either way, they are the primary influence, whether influencing all or not. So if you are not that “influencer” or at least you think that you are not, what can you do to keep from taking on the negative attributes of the “sum of five”?

The saying referred to the “who” of your influences but not of your “what”. Let’s make a few quick “sum of five” lists.

What are the last five books you read (or at least a part of)?
What are the five TV shows that you choose to watch the most?
What are the five websites that you direct your attention to the most?
What are the five places, besides home and work, where you spend most of your time?

While it would take a while to examine each of these areas at length, let’s just look at one and you can examine the others later, if you choose. In fact, I recommend it. OK, so what are the last five books that you read with the intention of finishing one day?

You know, reading is kind of magical. In a fiction book, it has the ability to take you a foreign place and thrust you into an adventure that few, if any of us would ever see in our lifetime. In a non-fiction book, it brings a reality to light and causes us to examine our own lives at times. Either way, reading has this method of getting inside of your mind and causing you to think, form ideas and then execute. Unlike watching TV, when reading, you pause and elaborate at times to expound and create.

Keeping that in mind, what things are you putting in your mind to expound and create upon. These things are influencing you and many times, they find their way through you to influence your “five”. You may be the influencer and not even know it.

So if you are an influencer, and are choosing the things that influence who you are going to be, who are you choosing to be?