Charging Your Hope Engine!

Dr. Danesh D. Chinoy is a leading Health and Wellness Coach, Sports Physiotherapist and Psychologist. He is also a prominent Facilitator, Educator and Administrator, Physiotherapist (Sports & Manual Therapy), Corporate Trainer and Psychologist. He is dedicated to guiding clients to succeed while inspiring an insatiable passion for learning and helping all to heal holistically and remain fighting fit for life. With a Doctorate in Sports Physiotherapy and a Masters in Psychology, Dr. Chinoy’s two-decades’ rich expertise has won him innumerable awards, nationally and globally.

You are much more powerful than you could ever imagine. There’s not a single thing life throws at you that can defeat you. Even the worst circumstances can’t stop you. Even the worst situation can’t make you less than who you are: a victorious, chosen child of Ahura Mazda, who is immeasurably loved and abundantly taken care of always.  Let’s reign in this ‘Navu Varas’ with prayers in our hearts and the golden light and warmth of hope radiating from our being. Yazdaan Panaah Baad, Saal Shaad Shaad Baad!

While we have all known and experienced hope at some point, it is also a complex and unique concept in more than one way. The Pollyanna principle is the tendency for people to remember pleasant items more accurately than the unpleasant ones. Research indicates that at the subconscious level, the mind tends to focus on the positive optimism; while at the conscious level, it tends to focus on the negative pessimism. Hope is the connecting bridge that makes positivity flow to the conscious level. It is true that optimism has much in common with hope, both are concerned with a positive future orientation and both assume the good. The difference is that optimism is a positive attitude about a future event that is probable and likely to occur: the optimist always expects that life will work out well and as expected. Conversely, being hopeful is regarded as more realistic. The hopeful individual recognizes that life may not work out as planned, yet maintains positive expectancy directed towards the possible outcomes that hold personal significance.

Now, hope is not Pollyannaish optimism – the assumption that a positive outcome is inevitable. Instead, hope is a motivation to persevere towards a goal or an end state, even if we’re skeptical of a positive outcome. Hope involves activity, a can-do attitude and a belief that we have a pathway to our desired outcome. Hope is the willpower to change and the direction-force to bring about that change.

Hope is significantly correlated with superior academic and athletic performance, greater physical and psychological well-being, improved self-esteem, and enhanced interpersonal relationships. Individuals with high hope are more likely to view stressful situations as challenging rather than threatening, thereby reducing the intensity and hindering the proliferation of stress. Hope protects against the development of chronic anxiety, while protecting against perceptions of vulnerability, uncontrollability, and unpredictability.

Hopeful individuals have greater control over how they will pursue goals and are intrinsically motivated to find multiple pathways to successful goal attainment. Hope motivates individuals to maintain their positive involvement in life regardless of any limitations imposed upon them. So, how do we build hope when it’s missing in action? Here are a few actionables to help charge the ‘Hope Engine’:

  1. Start with ‘Why’: Mentally remove yourself from the minutia of your business, projects, and day-to-day life. Throw away all your assumptions and step back into the big picture. Do this by going somewhere quiet (I suggest in front of Our Atash Padshah Saheb). Use questions to regain your clarity on what you really want out of life, and most importantly – ‘WHY’. Remember – he who has a Why, will surely find the How.
  2. Get clear on your ‘Big Goal’: Lastly question your big goal – it’s your hope for the future. Do you want to double your income? Do you want to build charitable institutions? Do you want to lose ten inches of your waist? Make sure it’s a goal that is: (a) Big; (b) Specific; (c) Challenging; and (d) In line with your ‘Why’.
  3. Create a ‘Hope Map’: Creating a ‘Hope Map’ helps us articulate our high expectations for the future and develop a clear view of the barriers we will need to overcome in order to get there. Hope Maps assist in the process of goal striving by encouraging a focus on clear and exciting goals, pathways and actions that will help in the pursuit of the said goal, identifying and overcoming potential barriers, and maintaining motivation. On reflection, a completed Hope Map creates a sense of confidence, energy, and excitement that comes with having multiple strategies to pursue goals.

Simply take a sheet of paper and place it horizontally on your desk. Then fold it into three sections and open it up once more. On the far right third of the page write the heading, ‘Goals’. Then note down the goal you’re hoping to achieve. For example, get enrolled for PhD by August 2021.

Then, on the far left third of the page, write the heading ‘Pathways’ and note down at least three different pathways you’ll need to initiate to reach your goal and make your hopes a reality. For eg., i) applying for the entrance exam of three best Universities; ii) drafting the research proposal iii) preparing for selection with a single point focus.

Now, in the middle third of the page write the heading, ‘Obstacles’. Note down at least one obstacle for each of the pathways you’ve identified that may thwart your hopes. An interesting find by relevant research shows that we’re more likely to succeed when we plan for possible obstacles at the outset. For eg., when drafting the research proposal, the biggest obstacle is getting overwhelmed with the details. Likewise, when it comes to preparation towards selection, obstacle is finding the time in daily schedule.

Finally, around the edges of your page, note down what you can do to maintain your motivation and will power to complete the pathways, achieve your goal and realize your hopes. How will you make the journey enjoyable? What strengths can you use? Who will encourage you? How will you measure your progress? For eg., seeking guidance from a senior researcher to prepare the draft, dedicating an hour before sleep for the PhD entrance exam.

  1. Fill The Hope Engine: Once your map is complete and your hopes are clear, you’re ready to get on with it – The Hope Engine fuel tank is filled!
  2. Establish Self-Deadlines: Setting deadlines and a system to hold yourself accountable is key to turning hope into action into reality. How long will it take you to complete each step? Set a start date and end date with specific deadlines. Now the Hope engine is all cylinders firing.
  3. Keep a Journal of Hope: The exploration of hope can be facilitated through self-reflective practice of journaling. While journaling is a common practice for many, it is also an effective tool to improve wellness, foster greater self-awareness, and cultivate hope. You could start with a simple diary / notebook and ensure there is a daily entry.
  4. Exploring Personal Beliefs About Hope: The objective of this exercise is to begin the process of thinking about hope and what it means to have hope. Write some hope-focused questions on pieces of paper and answer at random. For eg., What does it mean to you to have hope? In your opinion, what does a hopeful person look and sound like? If a picture on your wall could remind you of hope every morning, what would that picture be? What is the smallest possible change that could increase your hope? Try to think about some individuals who might benefit from hope? Consider different ways of expressing hope for them. Do you think some methods would be more effective than others and why?
  5. Your Internal Movie: Write a short internal movie in which the hope for a chosen goal is the protagonist. Throughout the exercise, the visualization of barriers and obstacles that may occur during the process of achieving that goal will encourage the creation of alternative pathways around and through challenges. Like all Bollywood movies, the protagonist rules the climax.
  6. Surround Yourself With Positivity: Always make it a point to read or listen to inspirational stories that build hope and ignite the fire within. Surround yourself with friends and family who are supportive and positive. This also means – keep a distance from negativity in all its forms.
  7. Humour, The Parsi Way: Laughter might be the best medicine for transforming the faintest of glimmers of hope into an eternal spring, reveals a research that shows humour may significantly increase a person’s level of hope. We Parsis are known for our sense of humour for a reason.
  8. Perform An Act Of Kindness: Doing even small acts of kindness can have a dramatic effect on your mood and outlook. Kindness triggers the release of serotonin, so it has an anti-depressant effect. It calms stress and reduces pain. Do acts of kindness daily. Even watching others perform acts of kindness has a positive effect and builds long lasting hope.
  9. Turn To Your Faith In Ahura Mazda: Last, but not the least, your faith in Him can be a strong force in holding on to hope. Sometimes your faith offers the support of not being alone and trusting that a higher power is always with you.

Your Take-Home Message For The New Year:

Hope is more than just a state of mind, it is an action-oriented strength. In the absence of this inner resource, how can we find the motivation to pursue our goals and the resilience to pick ourselves up when things go wrong? Many people persevere with the idea that hope is an either/or proposition, believing that in order to have hope, all despair must be destroyed. While it is true that hope comes and goes, and there are times when we feel like all hope is diminished, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Through practice, patience, and hope-focused discourse, we can help ourselves to make hope visible – not only to us and our families but also our endearing Community and our beloved nation. Remember; there was never a night or a problem that could defeat sunrise or hope!

Once again, wishing all my dear readers a very Happy, Prosperous, Healthy and Hopeful New Year! Ushta Te!

Dr. Danesh Chinoy
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