How to Keep Hope Alive
“No matter how bad things got, I always focused on what I could do that day. It’s like they say, it is best to live in the moment.” My new friend looked at me with raised eyebrows expecting a response. I could see that this was one of her core beliefs.
Since we moved to Florida last year, I have created a habit of going to a local coffee shop once a week. I take my Bible, a book I’m reading, and an iPad for writing. Something about the background noise helps me think. A new environment brings new ideas. But it also opens us to new people.
An Example of Hope
About 1,000 people move to Florida every day, and they bring their stories with them. When I sit down to write, I often hear a friendly voice say, “May I join you?” I look up (no longer with surprise), smiling, and welcome my new friend. This day, a graceful woman about a decade older than me returned my smile. She told me her story. She grew up in Florida, became homeless with children to care for, and moved across the Atlantic for love. Far from old friends and family, she focused on the present and landed on her feet. Starting her own business, she designed a lifestyle that works for her. Now, she fills her days with friendship, meaningful work, and family connections.
I asked her how she maintains an adventurous life despite her challenging experiences. Her secret? Every day, she takes action on what she can control. She makes each day count. It struck me that she is a living example of hope. Though she says she is not spiritual, she clings to one thought, today can be better than yesterday. While many of us let the past define us and control our choices today, there is a better path forward. Hope enables us to make new choices with the expectation that we will do better than yesterday.
Reject Insanity; Choose Hope
An Albert Einstein quote comes to mind. He said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.” In contrast, we exemplify hope by doing something different and expecting different results. But trying new things leads to disappointment. Not everything works out as we hope. And nothing discourages us more than shattered expectations. How can we push ahead and keep hope alive?
When I shared this definition of hope with my wife, she told me about the 5-Minute Rule. Popularized by Hal Elrod in his book, The Miracle Morning, it is a simple tool for living with hope. When Hal started a new direct sales job, his manager told him to expect rejection at an overwhelming rate. To cope, the manager suggested, Hal should allow himself time to feel disappointment. Let the emotions come, but let them go after five minutes. Then move on to the next challenge.
Live a Hope-Filled Life
These are components of a hope-filled life: living in the present moment, letting go of negative emotions within five minutes, and taking strategic action to make today better than yesterday. Since disappointments will come, we create resilience by pre-choosing our response. When circumstances threaten to overwhelm us, we maintain our sense of agency. Dan Miller, the author of 48 Days to the Work You Love, says we should ask, “What does this make possible?” Bad things happen, but even the worst can become part of a beautiful life story.
The hopeful life focuses, above all, on those things within our control at any given moment. And for our daily life, this may be enough. But one day, our days will run out. We will no longer exist. For this challenge, we need a more profound hope. Christianity points beyond this mortal existence. It promises an eternity through faith in Jesus Christ. If you place your trust in him, he promises everlasting hope.
“We must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope.”
— Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
If you feel that mortal life is enough, I will not think any less of you. We can all agree to live our days in hope. Our fleeting days on earth can leave a powerful example for others to emulate.
What failures have a hold on you? Let them go. Rest, and wake up with these words on your lips, “I will make today better than yesterday.” When setbacks come, hold on to hope with the 5-Minute Rule and the question, “What does this make possible?” We all fall. This week, get up without self-judgment. Keep your eyes focused on your daily walk, and make every day better than yesterday.
I hope you will find new freedom to take small risks, learn, and grow in faith. I hope you fall in small ways and find the resilience to get up, dust off your knees, and keep walking.