Dear Dr. Hwang:
“Do you think having a positive attitude helps?”
I believe that hope exists in everyone. Having a positive attitude grows from a sincere and genuine place in our hearts, that help us to form empowering beliefs. At the same time, hope takes practice and requires us to dig deep. Our attitudes are often based on beliefs that we’ve formed over time. As we develop, we engage in many processes that allow us to adapt, change and grow.
Beliefs lead to hope, faith and stamina. Other times, ideas we live by move us towards dissonance. Having hope allows us a wonderful opportunity to believe that a positive outcome will emerge. Having hope also lets us put away distress, so that we can concentrate on the day ahead.
Hopeful people are great to be around. They tend to see the strengths in themselves and others. They tend to draw out people’s best sides. Cultivating hope is similar to caring for a plant. Hope needs sunshine, water, oxygen, food, nourishment and the freedom to grow, just as plants do. Paradoxically, hope also informs us when it’s time to let go. Hope shouldn’t drain.
Hope, leads to progress and movement. Hope leads to justice. Hope also leads to an internal state, which can help us overcome amazing obstacles. Recently, I had an opportunity to learn more about Malalai Joya, a civil rights activist in Afghanistan who fights for women to have access to education and Malala Yousafzai, who has become famous for doing the same. Their stories underscore that hope makes worry fade, which is when goals are reached.
Kim S. Hwang, PsyD has a doctorate in Clinical Psychology. She is an adjunct professor at the Minnesota School of Professional Psychology.
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