“I don’t think of all the misery, but of the beauty that still remains.” – Anne Frank, German-born diarist, and World War II Holocaust victim who died at Bergen-Belsen concertation camp at the age of 16
Optimism is in the biology of hope. For thousands of years, man has been searching for a reason. A reason to live, to work, and to love. Why would someone harness themselves to an oxcart, day after day, knowing that they will have to do it again? To trudge through the muck day after day?
Some have used religion and spirituality; some have turned to science to search for the answers to life. There is one thing in common, they inspire hope.
In the dictionary, if you look up hope you will find that it says that it is a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen. You can find hope as a pillar in every self-help book and all religions. We all desire a reason to push on and hope is that reason.
The best way I can describe how transformational hope can be is with a story. Some may know it, most may not. The story is that of Bill W. or Bill Willison, the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Bill was a married man who fought in World War I. Upon his return from the war he became a stock speculator with a major drinking habit. He had monumental success in traveling the country and evaluating companies for potential investors. But his drinking got the best of him.
His drinking ruined his reputation and made it near impossible for him to function. Finally, he was committed to the Charles B. Towns Hospital for Drug and Alcohol Addictions in New York City. This is where he met a man and had an experience that would change his life.
Using what he had learned about alcohol and his newfound hope, he tried and get others sober. He would take them in and nurse them back to health. But in a matter of days that the same person, dejected and broken yet again, would return in a worse state.
He found that something was missing, and that something was hope. In the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous most of the steps deal with hope and self-reflection. Right off the bat in the second step, it says, “Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.” It all starts with hope.
As of 2016, it has been estimated that two million people worldwide are members of AA. That’s two million people that found hope, found a reason to live, and got on with it. Hope is transformational. Alcoholics Anonymous and all its related group members are the proof.
Now the reason I told this story is that it is a story of hope and how it can save someone. You don’t have to be an alcoholic or an addict to be at a real low time in your in life. Anyone that has been in a tough spot or less than ideal circumstances can easily connect to this.
Searching for a way out and not knowing what to do. There is a way-out, hope for something better and put in some work. Turn your attention to the positives and forget the negatives. Do something to better your situation every day, even if it is something small. Progress not perfection. The world is crazy and the one way I know to stay sane is to have hope.