Courage, dear heart.

To hope is an act of extraordinary courage.

If you take away nothing else from today’s post, or today’s journal work, then just remember that one central truth. To hope is an act of extraordinary courage. Let no one convince you otherwise.

To have hope is to accept the magnificent truth of our human irrationality, to breathe life into the recesses of the unmappable human spirit, that part of us that evades scientific specificity. The ability to continue having hope in the world, despite all evidence to the contrary, is one of the greatest — and most fragile — of all human gifts.

There are scores of articles on how to do the internal work of being hopeful. Practicing self-compassion, gratitude, and active giving will renew a hopeful spirit within. Today’s work is not that kind of work.

I’ll note here that it is far easier to renew that spirit and remain hopeful if one is also routinely able to make do with what one ultimately gets. The trick in that is an ability to feel settled and at peace with the eventual outcome, landing on neither passivity nor cynicism in the process.

That last bit is the focus today, because one of the resources for having HOPE is a person in your life who allows you to feel hopeful in a particular way.

The prompt seems simple and straightforward: Name one real person in your like who makes (allows) you to feel HOPEFUL. Bonus work? Write down what it is you’re hoping for. Put that hope into the real universe, even if you burn after writing.

Open to going a little deeper? Excellent. Start here:

Is the person you named someone you trust enough that you’ll share your hopes? Play it out in your head. Imagine the conversation. How does s/he respond? What does s/he offer? Advice? A counter perspective? Encouragement?

Fast forward to some imagined point in the future, when what you hoped for has not materialized in exactly the way you’d wished. Imagine that you are again with the person you named. How does this conversation go? Does s/he offer consolation? Humor? Syrupy sympathy? Or, perhaps (and worst of all) the deadly, “I was worried it wouldn’t work out as you hoped…”?

Think this one all the way through, and then, if needed, start fresh from the top with a different name.

Who in your life gives you the grace, acceptance, belief, and ground cover you need in order to be truly hopeful, deep in your soul, no matter the ultimate outcome?

The list of names I could write on that line, I’ll confess, is stunningly short. And doing today’s work, and playing it all the way through, has led me to additional work that isn’t in the December Sanity Journal. That additional work is self-reflection to consider, with brutal honesty, how I stack up in this same regard as a friend (mother, partner, and so on) to others when they have the courage to let me in on their hopes and dreams.

See? I told you this week’s work would be a bit harder. Tomorrow follows along in a similar fashion, so be prepared. The point from here forward, now that we’re past the hubbub of Christmas Day, is to reflect and reset in preparation for the turning of the calendar page.

Until tomorrow, be very well. And, of course, be hopeful. Why not?

P.S. – Every day, for four more days, I post the book: December Sanity Journal.

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