HOPE NOTES #6: 3 Ways to LOSE HOPE FAST
Well, you clicked on the link, so I guess you wanted to know. In short, here are three ways to lose hope super fast:
1. Tie your hope to a specific outcome
2. Keep everything positive
3. Get on the internet
Here's how I see it.
First, tie your hope to a specific outcome. I remember when I was a kid growing up playing basketball. It kept me busy practicing during the day, and all night I dreamt about it. The big deal that all the kids talked about is “can you slam dunk” and if you couldn’t dunk (jump up high enough to touch the hoop and slam the ball through), how high could you jump. Those were the things.
Yeah, but I was probably a 5 foot nothing girl at the time. I did calf exercises and prayed to grow and now I’m a towering 5 foot 6 almost 7 inches depending on the shoes and the hairdo.
That was sarcastic. I’m very short for basketball. And I’m a girl.
I could touch the bottom of the backboard, but I never got to the rim. As a girl, I only had one team mate who could ever dunk and she was 6 foot 2 inches and had these go-go-gadget arms. But I dreamed of it. I hoped for it. I imagined it. Despite injuries cutting my basketball career short (I never played for money, just 3 year of university after highschool), I had some really great memories, some amazing games. One game I remember being in slow motion. Not missing and not really being conscious of where I was shooting from. Everything went in. My rookie year at university I got player of the game in a pre-season tournament. Lots of good times on and off the court. But what if I was like, “My success in basketball depends on whether or not I can dunk!”
I know it seems a little silly, but sometimes we do that in life. Consciously and unconsciously.
If I weigh this amount, if I have this kind of salary, if I get this position at work, if my church recognizes me, if I get the part in the production . . . and on it goes. It could even be stuff like, if my kids get good grades, or if they are all star athletes, THEN I’ll be successful.
The fastest way to lose hope is to decide that one single specific goal defines everything for you.
The second thing: Keep it all positive.
I bet you are kind of surprised because I think some of what I write might come across as positivity. I totally agree in always looking for the good, but honesty matters. If life is hard and causes pain, it has to be felt. If you ARE discouraged, hurt, angry, afraid, sad . . . whatever is going on for us inside our hearts, we HAVE to acknowledge the truth of our own hearts. Otherwise, we damage our own hearts.
Phrases like, “this is hard” are so important to say.
I have a friend who, when my kids would get hurt and cry, she’d say, “You’re fine. You’re fine.”
The kids of COURSE were fine - eventually. But they WERE experiencing pain and frustration and I actually decided to talk to my friend and ask her to NOT tell my kids they were fine, but to ask questions like, “Where does it hurt” or “do you want to tell me what happened” or even, “do you need a minute?”
I needed them to figure that out for themselves that they were fine. But FIRST I needed them to learn how to say what they were feeling.
I remember STUFFING SO MANY FEELINGS when I was a kid. Good ones. Bad ones. Pride in myself. Fear. Discomfort. I arrived at adulthood with no “gut” - you know where people say trust your “gut”? I had never developed mine. I was always trying to do good, obey the rules and make the big people happy with me. I had NO IDEA what I was feeling or thinking.
Instead of “stay positive” I’d say “do the work of figuring out what is going on inside and be honest about it.” AND IT IS WORK! It is so valuable to have thoughts and emotions that correspond in positive and negative ways towards real life. But after we know what we are actually feeling, then we learn to view them in light of hope (or discouragement if that’s the direction you want to go. But I hope not. I hope some of this is making sense!)
And finally: Use screens as much as possible.
Aw man. So I debated this last point. Honestly, . . I'm a bit nervous because it's a bit . . . controversial? Or unpopular...
But for me, it’s actually a huge difference maker. If left unchecked, I start to live my days like this: bored? Check my email. Tired? Check instagram. Lonely? Check facebook. Hungry? Look up recipes. Got a question? Google it. Frustrated? Play a game on my phone. Text. Message. Check. Wonder if I missed my calling. Look up America’s Got Talent. Look it up on youtube. Head down. Watching. Watching. Watching. 2 hours later . . .
My phone is like a magnet. It’s sitting beside me on a couch right now while I type on my computer. I’m ON A SCREEN and yet my phone is calling me. Something in my brain is telling me to reach over and grab it just to see if there’s anything for me.
Anything WHAT? Anything. Anything! Just anything.
I don’t often speak up about this outside my home with my own kids because I want to respect everyone’s boundaries. But the truth is, screens are incredibly addicting. They are fun, immediate, and they have a little bit of something for everyone. Unfortunately, they don’t help us engage in our present and personal lives the way I understand that humans are designed and need to be.
I mean, hey. I’m on a computer typing for you. I make Youtube videos. So, yeah. Screens. They are such a huge part of our lives. But it’s like entering a universe with totally different rules when you click on Facebook, or Instagram, or Youtube or any of the many other apps that I’m not keeping up with, because here’s the thing -people are working REALLY hard behind the scenes to keep us moving through headlines, videos, clicking thumbs up and hearts - just interacting. Companies are making money off of us when we click. Everything is being spun and mathed (my new word) and scienced (another new word) and crafted to get you to look and to stay as.long.as.possible.
I messed with you a bit on this email on purpose. Just take a look at my title. I purposely made this email a list of 3 things so I could use it here as an example.
Did you know that when headlines use numbers, they sound more authoritative? Our brains like numbers too. You saw my list of 3 - and that probably helped you understand how much time you needed. A list of 3 things. Not too long. Hmm. Wonder what they are. ANnnnnd . . . hooked.
Research shows that headlines with numbers tend to generate 73% more social shares and engagement. You can read the whole article HERE.
Here is my point: the internet is not some innocent bystander that you can pop in and out of. It’s designed based on research to get you and keep you. Games are designed to keep you engaged. Give you points. Levels. Rewards. To keep your thumbs on the game.
My spiritual, physical, mental and emotional health has never improved by getting on the internet and playing games or looking around. It’s been fun. I’ve passed time- but it hasn’t enriched my life.
When I’ve been deliberate, I’ve been able to learn and USE the internet (I take a guitar course online and have a daily exercise routine that I access on a screen). But if I’m honest, when I’m not being deliberate, the internet, my screens mostly just use up my time and emotional energy and leave me discouraged about political issues or feeling pretty lame compared to all the successful people out there.
I kind of care a lot about this.
Right now I feel like here in Canada, our country is tangled up in stories that have us all divided. That’s GREAT for the algorithm. It’s AMAZING for getting clicks. My impulse is to search the internet. Engage more. Post. Comment. But feel your body the moment you do it. It’s tense. I feel hot. Angry.
A 16th Century Chinese philosopher named Lao Tzu said, “Muddy water, let stand, becomes clear.” Muddy water will become clear if allowed to stand undisturbed, and so too will the mind become clear if it is allowed to be still.
Screens do not give me hope. They muddy my waters. I forget what is real and what I have. I forget what matters and who I am. I lose clarity. I get discouraged. So when I am living consciously, I put limits on my screens.
We lose hope when we pick a SINGLE outcome and live like our lives depend on it.
We lose hope when we disconnect from what’s going on inside of us.
We lose hope when we engage in screen life with no plan, guards, or limits.
There’s a spark inside. It can grow. What if we set our hearts to jump higher and not just aim for a DUNK. What if we spent time each day deciphering our feelings and learning about ourselves a little? What if we made decisions ahead of time with our screens and we mastered them instead of them mastering us?
Happy hope to you. It’s your work to do, if you choose it.
PS. Why did the pianist keep banging his head against the keys? He was playing by ear!