Most of us have heard a variation on this story about the monkey but let’s revisit it.
Monkeys were stealing food from a village. So the natives devised gourds that would trap them. The gourds have a hole just large enough for the monkey’s hand to slip into. They then weight the gourd with sand and one piece of food. The trap is set. The monkey sticks his hand into the gourd in hope of getting the food — but with the prize in its grasp, the monkey cannot get its hand back out. The hole is too small for the monkey’s hand to pass through so long as it’s holding the treat, and the gourd is too heavy for the creature to carry. Because the monkey doubts that he can obtain this food another way that is less dangerous, it becomes trapped. The animal gives up its freedom to hold on to a small piece of food.
The monkey is the “Doubting Thomas” in this story. This is a phrase we use to describe people who are most often skeptical of what others have freely believed in and accepted.
Who is the Doubting Thomas in your life? Is it you? Are you the thumbs down at every change, adventure, or thought that goes against what’s comfortable?
“Hope is putting faith to work when
doubt would be easier.” Thomas S. Monson
When was the last time you said, “I doubt…”? Do you realize that this attitude could be removing hope from your life’s equation? By removing hope, we destine ourselves to a downward spiral – no end in sight. Without hope, there is no brighter, better future.
Most of us humans live with varying degrees of hope on any given day. Mine moves up and down although the older I get and more equipped with strategies, the less I swing on this chart.
COMMON HOPE EXAMPLES
- Our kid’s or grandkid’s sports team will win their game.
- The medical test will be negative.
- Someday we will feel loved and accepted by a significant other.
- We will have money to retire and not be a burden to our kids.
What Influences our degree of hope?
- Health/Physical well being
- The degree of acceptance we feel from others in our current situation
- Fear of being the outsider and rejected
In other words, if our physical and mental circumstances are pretty comfortable and we feel relatively healthy, accepted, and safe, our hope level will naturally be higher.
So, if our circumstances are less than where we NATURALLY feel hopeful, what can we change to get us back on the hopeful track? In other words, what’s in our control to change?
What’s in our control to change?
Change our environment
If being in your house or apartment is making you depressed, get out for a while. Get outside to a park where there’s natural beauty. Go to a museum where art is on display. Find an area where other people are in a more hopeful state-of-mind. Some examples would be a farmers market, concert, restaurant, or movie.
Reflect on better times
Talk about or physically write down times when you felt more hope.
- When you first fell in love
- Your child was young, and possibilities were endless
- You just accepted a new job or volunteer position that felt challenging but exciting and loaded with opportunity
Speaking or writing these “better times” is scientifically proven to have more significance for us than just thinking about them.
“Thoughts disentangle themselves over
the lips and through pencil tips.” Hyatt
Engage with hopeful people
This can be anyone you trust or believe is speaking truth into your life.
- Pastor – local congregation that is teaching scriptural truth
- Podcasts – people who are hopeful and uplifting
- Trusted friends and family who have your best interest at heart
Active Listening is paraphrasing, summarizing, questioning, and clarifying what you’ve heard. Its work, and it’s rewarding, and it is not auto-pilot.
In summary, there are things you can change to be more hopeful and to build faith into your life.
Hope gives us a more positive life perspective in general and gives each of us the opportunity to grow further than our current life environment and circumstances.
What one thing can you do this week to give yourself the gift of hope? Let us know in the comment box below or send us an email at Mike@MikeandSusanDawson.com.