Put the Happy in Happy Holidays
The word “hope” is mentioned often in Christmas songs of various genres: “A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices” says one hymn; “Someone lights the way with just a single ray of hope” according to a country song; and “Every hope is worth saving” claims a symphonic rock tune. Hope is a popular theme, one worth cultivating at any time of year.
The Power of Hope
In the book The Anatomy of Hope, author Jerome Groopman, M.D., writes that belief and expectation are two essential components of hope. Often when patients expect a particular drug or therapy to relieve their pain, they do experience relief—even if they are only given a placebo. Dr. Groopman explains that the placebo effect exists because belief and expectation actually block physical pain by releasing endorphins and enkephalins. He says that one spark of hope can set off a chain reaction in our bodies that helps the healing process.
Studies also show that the cultivation of hope has psychological benefits as well. Hopeful people do better in academics and athletics, for example, and experience less anxiety, depression, and addiction.
Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, or Winter Solstice, each holiday has intertwining themes of light and hope. Light—in the form of stars, candles, or the sun—pierces darkness, offering the gift of hope. How will you cultivate your gift?
Karen Casey, author of the book Cultivating Hope, suggests keeping a journal of the times that others have reached out to you when you were afraid or troubled, giving you hope. Also record the times that you have provided a ray of hope to others. Write about how it feels on both the receiving end and giving end, so that you can become more aware of how hope works in your life.
Other ways to foster hope include reading stories of how hope has affected other people’s lives, such as the inspirational stories in the Chicken Soup series of books. Also, the holiday season is the best time of year to find movies on television that demonstrate hope and believing, ranging from classics like Miracle on 34th Street to more modern tales on the Hallmark and Lifetime networks.
If you don’t have time to read books or watch movies, try reading one or two brief motivational quotes each day. You can even have them delivered automatically through e-mail each day. Or simply post the word “Hope” or “Believe” someplace where you will see it often. And when you wake up each morning, say to yourself, “I believe something wonderful will happen to me today.”
“This may sound crazy but laughter is one of the greatest healers of all. Sometimes it’s better to put down the inspirational books and rent a bunch of DVD’s of stand up comedians. No plots, no romance just someone you think is really funny. Good comedians remind us just how absurd life can be. That, in itself is an inspiration.” – Chloe ext. 9421
If you are feeling depressed, a sense of control over your life will cultivate hope. Each day make small decisions and set attainable goals with full expectation and belief that you will accomplish them. Hope builds upon itself. The more you realize the power of hope in your life, the more hopeful you will feel.
Observe Hope in Action
If you do only one thing this holiday season to cultivate hope, let it be this: go to a mall and watch children as they stand in line to visit Santa Claus. You would be hard pressed to find any other place at this time of year where belief and expectation are demonstrated more strongly. Those kids have no doubt that Santa will deliver.
“There are many ways to celebrate, consider if you may need to release familiar obligations if they do not bring you joy, in order to find your own space to create holiday happiness!” – Yemaya ext. 5143
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