What is Hope?

Hope

/hōp/

Noun: A feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.

Verb: Want something to happen or to be the case: “he’s hoping for compensation”; “I hope that the kids are OK”.

Psychologists argue about when people begin to feel hope. Some say that hope is activated under dire circumstances when people do not believe that things will turn out in their favor. In this scenario, hope replaces feelings of fear and despair with a belief in a better future. Other psychologists argue that hope is activated when someone has a goal in their mind, and is determined to reach that goal. People who cultivate goal-based hope also believe in a better future.

In the book, The Psychology of Hope: You Can Get Here from There, Dr. Charles D. Snyder discusses theories he developed on hope. Dr. Snyder says, “Hope is the sum of the mental willpower and waypower that you have for your goals.” This definition is supported with three underlying concepts:

  • Goals: “Goals are objects, experiences, or outcomes that we imagine and desire in our minds…the goals involving hope fall somewhere between an impossibility and a sure thing.”
  • Willpower: “Willpower is the driving force in hopeful thinking.” Dr. Snyder continues to explain that willpower is enhanced by an individual’s perception of their desired goal. The better they understand the goal, the stronger the willpower.
  • Waypower: “Waypower reflects the mental plans or road maps that guide hopeful thought.” Think of waypower as being the GPS for your goals. The goal is the destination, and the willpower is the engine and energy used to obtain the goals, but waypower is the route you take to achieve your goals.

Hope is one of the few tools we have available to us in today’s uncertain world. We may not have the power to change society as a whole, but we can each do our part by making changes in ourselves and by acting as an example to your community and the people in your life.

If you are looking for an uplifting story about hope, read Mr. Breeze! It is available at www.Amazon.com and www.BarnesAndNoble.com. A Kindle edition is also available through Amazon. Get your copy now so you can read it before the sequel is released in February 2013!

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How to Successfully Implement New Years Resolutions

“Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better man.” – Benjamin Franklin

Can New Years resolutions be successfully implemented? In 1985, University of Scranton’s psychology department conducted research to determine if setting New Years resolutions were effective. Over 60% of the participants admitted to giving up on their resolutions before six months had passed.

One of the reasons why they are so hard to keep is because people try to make monumental changes that are difficult to maintain. Often people are not physically nor emotionally ready to make big changes in their lives on January 1st.

How can you make a successful New Years resolution? There are two different methods to try:

1. Make a small change or incorporate a new habit into your daily routine.

This is the simplest New Years resolution to make. You can decide to make a daily habit of performing a good deed for someone or make a goal of paying at least one compliment to a person each day. Resolutions like these are easy to implement, and make yourself and others feel good.

2. Trade one habit for another.

If you want to quit a bad habit, replace it with another habit. For example, if you are always criticizing people and want to change that behavior, replace that habit with a different, positive behavior. Whenever you have a critical thought, stop and think of a positive thought and say the positive message instead. This makes giving up a negative behavior an easier task because instead of quitting a habit altogether (stating an opinion  is the habit in this example) you are replacing one behavior for another (stating a positive opinion instead of a critical one).

Happy New Year!

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Give Thanks This Holiday Season!

Thanksgiving is not the only time to express gratitude this holiday season. No matter which holiday you celebrate in December, it is appropriate to express thankfulness and gratitude to the ones you love, especially when receiving a gift.

There are many ways to express gratitude this holiday season, but we are going to focus on three meaningful ways. These three methods are adapted from an article published by The Washington Post. You can read the original article here: http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2012-12-18/lifestyle/35908503_1_holiday-party-gift-holiday-traditions

1. Say “thank you” in person.

This is the nicest way to say thank you. Be sure to make eye contact while expressing your gratitude. It is also helpful to pair another phrase with the “thank you,” such as “What a nice sweater!” or “I’ve always wanted this!” Even if you do not like the gift you can always say something pleasant, such as, “Thank you for thinking about me.”

2. Write a thank you note.

If you cannot thank the gift giver in person, write them a thank you note. It is easy to write a thank you note. All you have to write are 2-3 sentences. People love receiving letters in the mail; expressing your thanks in this manner will be well-received and appreciated by the person you are thanking.

3. Say thanks via telecommunication.

Call someone to say thank you. Sometimes a meaningful phone conversation is better than the actual “thank you.” This is also a good way to teach children to say thank you to people when they are far away. Email and text messages are also acceptable ways to say thanks, but a phone call, letter, or saying thanks in person are still the preferred methods of expressing gratitude during the holiday season.

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Tolerance

“How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because some day in life you will have been all of these.” – George Washington Carver

Tolerance is a virtue that can be practiced every day. It helps make the world a kinder, gentler place. People who regularly practice tolerance increase their acceptance of other people, situations, and life circumstances. This lowers their stress levels and helps them lead peaceful lives.

How can you increase your tolerance of other people in your life? Here are several tips adapted from the article “How To Be More Tolerant Of Other People” on a Personal Development blog (read the complete article here: http://www.whatithinkabout.com/how-to-be-more-tolerant-of-other-people/)

1. Resist the impulse to reject things you don’t understand.

When confronted with a point of view that you don’t understand or that you don’t agree with, listen to what the other person has to say rather than making judgmental comments. They may expose you to different or valuable information that will give you a new perspective on life.

2. Try to understand the other person’s point of view.

When you understand another person’s perspective, their point of view makes more sense to you. Any feelings of irritation or discord will lessen, and increase your tolerance. Also, the other person will be more likely to want to understand your point of view.

3. Let’s all be friends

We all have to coexist on the same planet, so we may as well get along!

“What would you do if you didn’t have someone to hate?”  – Zack Breeze

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New Excerpt From Mr. Breeze!

“Mr. Breeze, as much as I’d like to say we did something to help, we both know that you could have done this without any of us. I don’t know who you are, but you have done the world a great service. I will be certain that everyone knows what you accomplished here today.”

“Thank you, Doctor, but I didn’t do this for recognition or for anyone’s gratitude. As far as people knowing, that’s what Michael is here for—to tell a story. What happened here today is just a part of that story.”

People have different motivations for wanting the world to be a better place. Some people want recognition, praise, and gratitude. Other people want a better life for their children or just to be kind out of the goodness in their heart. Zack knows that being helpful and kind inspires others to do good deeds to help each other.

How would the world change if we all did our part to make the world a better place? Would people be grateful for the good deeds that made the world better?

There are small things we can all do to help. Volunteer for a cause you are passionate about. Post a sentence or two on your Facebook wall to promote an organization that is making positive changes in your community. Perform a random act of kindness. Volunteer to temporarily shelter a couple animals when the rescue shelters are too full.

What is your motivation for making the world a better place?

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The Virtue of Kindness

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” – Aesop

Kindness is a virtue that is recognized in all cultures. Performing random acts of kindness makes the world a better place. Everyone benefits from kindness, even the person who is performing the benevolent action. Research shows that when someone performs a kind act, neurotransmitters are released in their brain that make them feel content and relaxed.

“You are good people,” Zack said, “and you deserve better than what your world has become.”

Zack is right; we all deserve to live in a better world. What can we do to make it a better place? One way that is within everyone’s means is by performing random acts of kindness. They do not need to cost money or very much time; they can be as simple as holding the door open for someone who has their hands full or allowing someone ahead of you in a line.

Recently, a news story has gone viral about a police officer buying a pair of boots for a homeless man in NYC. Can you imagine how the world would turn into a better place if everyone did their part to make someone else happy? The officer spent $75 on the shoes but this is not something we all need to do to be kind and generous. A link to a website about this story is posted here:

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2012/11/29/nypd-officers-kindness-sparks-online-sensation/1734495/

I hope this story inspires you to make someone’s day a little brighter.

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Miracles and Kindness

“The miracles of nature do not seem miracles because they are so common. If no one had ever seen a flower, even a dandelion would be the most startling event in the world.” – Unknown

Mr. Breeze performs many miracles in the book. Everyone can perform miracles by being kind to one another. What may seem like a small act of kindness may be a miracle to the recipient of that act of kindness. For a homeless person, having food, water, and clothing donated to them will feel like a miracle. Carrying a bag of groceries into your disabled neighbor’s house can save them stress and time, which will feel like a miracle.

These miracles are acts of kindness that we can do every day. Mother Theresa wisely said, “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.” These echoes uplift our spirits; when we are having a bad day this by itself can feel like a miracle.

Here are some ways we can incorporate miracles into our daily lives:

• Smile at someone

• Volunteer at a soup kitchen

• Make eye contact with a homeless person – they are used to people ignoring them

• Hold the door open for another person

• Allow someone else to have your seat on the bus

• Give another car the good parking space in a crowded parking lot

• Donate items to emergency shelters

• Give someone a compliment

• Ask a wandering person if they need directions

Start performing small acts of kindness and see how many miracles you can create for other people!

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Mr. Breeze: First Book Excerpt!

What if you had an opportunity to take the journey of a lifetime and have many of life’s questions answered for you? This is the opportunity that Michael Ryan is presented with in “Mr. Breeze.” Michael, a photojournalist, chases Zackary Breeze to capture what he thinks will be the story of a lifetime. What he discovers is much more profound than anyone could ever imagine.

Check out this excerpt from the book:

“So why did you decide to come and look for me?”

I did not know at that point that it was never my decision. “I wanted to know if you were for real.” It was the first thought that came to my mind, not exactly a great response.

“For real,” Zack answered, laughing.

I read a lot of stories about the things you did for people, and I want to know how you do the things you do. I was hoping you’d let me interview you.”

“I guess we need to get something straight right off the bat, Michael. I did not invite you here so you could come and interview me for a few hours and leave.”

“Then why did you bring me here?” I asked, not completely sure I wanted to know the answer.

“I brought you here to write about what we’re going to do together. If you want this story, you’re going to be here to live it. I want you to write what you see and what I’m trying to do, and that’s going to take time. Think months, Michael, not hours. If you’re not prepared to do this, tell me now and I’ll take you back to your hotel.”

I must admit I did have a brief moment when I thought I’d ask Zack to take me back to the hotel, but it quickly passed. I was still not sure who he was or how he could do the things he did, but I knew I was not going home until I got what I came for. “I’m in, Zack, however long it takes.”

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