Saturday, September 6, 2008

Construction of Hope

To love is to risk not being loved in return. To hope is to risk pain. To try is to risk failure, but risk must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.

May the love hidden deep inside your heart find the love waiting in your dreams. May the laughter that you find in your tomorrow wipe away the pain you find in your yesterdays.

These are two sayings (authors unknown) about hope that I find very appealing and, I hope (no pun intended), true. defines hope as “a feeling of desire for something, usually with confidence in the possibility of its fulfillment.”

The wording “confidence in the possibility of its fulfillment” is what I find interesting. So, okay. What if you’re on a sinking cruise ship in the middle of the ocean? Some people would no doubt pray for salvation, meaning that they have hope of rescue from some quarter. Some people would find life jackets and life rafts and hope that their actions will save their lives. Some people will help others into the jackets and rafts, thereby saving more lives. But why would some people simply pray and hope for salvation and others actually perform the saving?

It seems to me that if you just wish for salvation without doing anything to help yourself, then it is a very self-centered and useless thing. If you were praying and finding life jackets, life rafts and helping others into the rafts, then I would say that your hope is a self-fulfilling prophecy. You help yourself. You help others. Your hope of being saved is fulfilled.

There’s a little story told that goes something like this: a man is stranded on the roof of his house, trapped by rising flood waters. He is praying, hoping, that God will save him. A few people in boats come by and they all offer to save him but he turns them down, saying that God will save him. The flood waters eventually overcome the house and he starts to drown. With his last breath he cries out to God, “Why didn’t you save me?” And God answers, “Well, I sent all those boats and you didn’t get in.”

The point is that you can have hope for the future, but that comes with the responsibility to actually take part in making your hopes come true. If you’re a writer but can’t finish a book, you can’t simply sit there and hope you’ll finish it, or you’re screwed. You actually have to put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, or SOMETHING, to make your hope come true.

Nothing is free. Not love, not hope, not success. They all exact a price of some kind. And that cost can be a steep cost, requiring you to do things that you may not want to do. Things that scare you. But if you really want your hopes to come true, then you must pay the price of admission, cowboy up and go for what you want.

Now, we all struggle with motivation at some point in our lives. Some people struggle everyday, other people just seem to be self-motivated and then there’s everyone in between. Some people just sit back and say to themselves, “I’ll do it tomorrow. I’ll feel like doing it some other time.” And for these people, who refuse to take responsibility for their hopes, tomorrow never comes. They sit and wait for motivation to magically appear and solve all their problems.

That’s not how hope works. Hope works when you do everything in your power to make your dreams and wishes materialize. Hope works when you take responsibility for yourself. Motivation comes with the doing of things, not with the wishing/hoping for things.

As a writer, I have my share of days when I don’t feel like writing. But I still hope for success. If I don’t put in the time to make myself a success, then my hopes are empty hopes. I mean, no one is going to knock on my door and offer to write my books for me, not for free anyway. If I don’t work on writing, don’t work on promoting my books, then no one will know my work exists. I have to have a marketing plan. I have to schedule book readings, book signings and interviews. I have to push myself to approach media to make myself known to them and consequently the world.

Hope is a good thing (sorry about the Martha Stewart-ism). But hope must be coupled with action. Your mind can be a powerful ally or it can be a devastating adversary. If your mind isn’t working in your favor, then you need to seek help of some sort so that your mind is a tool for your hopes, instead of an encumbrance.

I strongly believe in personal responsibility, which you know if you’ve been reading my blogs. Personal responsibility is my mantra. I have to make my hopes actually happen. Some people will disagree with me, especially about the praying for God’s help without investing something of yourself in your desired outcome. But if you’re hoping/praying for an outcome, perhaps you can take it a bit further and visualize your hopes coming true. Visualize what it would take for your hopes to happen.

Visualization is a powerful tool that can set you on the path to success. So if praying helps you do take action, then all the better. It is one of your tools. Learn to use it to accomplish your dreams and hopes. Sit down, close your eyes and imagine the things you would do if you were successful. You drive up to your ideal place of work, wearing your successful clothes, go up to your ideal office and do the things that make you an original success. Keep that image in your mind. Do the things that will make it come true.

So, I believe in hope. It’s one of the things that makes me get out of bed in the morning. But hope requires work and attention. Don’t sell yourself short because you fear failing. Or succeeding. No one tells you how to deal with success. They tell you what to do if you fail: get up, dust yourself off and try again.

I guess I’ll never be the damsel in distress because I’ll do whatever I need to be successful and happy in my life.

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