By Dr Sima Patel
“Where there is no vision, there is no hope.”
George Washington Carver
March is here and Spring is upon us. Even though hope does not perish in the depth of winter, there is something amazing about the hope that awakens in the spring time. Spring can be likened to a bridge – a time when one part crosses to another and so seeds are planted and they will be transformed into flowers and fruit. The dormant grass and winter wheat comes alive to dot the fields and hillsides and our memories are jogged of the greener tapestry to come. Birds start to sing their dawn chorus and our minds boggle with their clever chirps and beautiful notes.
So spring is a time that brings us renewed hope. Whereas most thoughts around hope centre on wishful thinking, in psychology there is Hope Theory. According to this theory, hope consists of agency and pathways. Agency refers to the will and determination that a person has in order to achieve their aims and aspirations. Pathways refers to a set of different strategies that the person can use in order to achieve their aims and aspirations.
When athletes are compared against each other using criteria such as training, self-confidence, self-esteem and mood, those who have higher levels of hope achieve better outcomes. Another interesting study showed that students with higher levels of hope performed better in their educational settings compared with those students who have similar tests and examinations but with lower levels of hope.
So it seems that where there is hope, there is a will and a way. Here are some strategies that you can choose in order to increase your level of hope: Think of what it is that you want to achieve.
First think of the big picture and then think of how this could be broken down into small achievable jigsaw pieces. For example, how do you want your garden (physical or symbolic) to look by the summer time?
Visualise different paths to achieving the individual jigsaw pieces.
Remember that you are likely to encounter obstacles on your path and so increasing the number of pathways is going to be helpful.
Draw upon memories of past success and revisit these through storytelling. Scientists have found that hopeful people draw on memories of other successes when they face an obstacle whereas people who are low in hope tend not to have these kinds of memories.
Keep things light and positive. It is important to try to enjoy the process of obtaining aims and aspirations. So laughing at yourself when you face an obstacle and make a mistake helps to keep things light. As hard as it is having no self-pity can help things to stay positive and this is much better than beating yourself up for making a mistake.
So use spring as a stepping stone for increasing hope.
“Keep all special thoughts and memories for lifetimes to come.
Share these keepsakes with others to inspire hope and build from the past, which can bridge to the future.” Mattie Stepanek
Dr Sima Patel Chartered Psychologist and Coach
15 New Road | Brighton | East Sussex | BN1 1UF Telephone: 01273 803 013 thewellbeingpractice.co.uk