A Season of Hope. For those no longer with us.

I had a different plan for what I was going to write this morning.  Then I started thinking about my friends and family who are no longer with us. The pain will always be there. Is it odd to find comfort in the pain? It is how I remember them.

I went to see my niece in a play the other day. It breaks my heart to see her and her brother because they look SO much like their dad who passed away.

My friend Jeff who just lost his mother asked, “How do you continue on when the person who built your heart is gone?”  

There are no simple answers. Life is comedy and tragedy. The minute you are born you spend the rest of your time on earth either living or dying. I believe in the Butterfly Effect. Your parents gave you more than life. They taught you lessons. Your job was to continue and teach those around you.  As a parent there are three things that I wanted to teach my children. The “3 R’s” 

  • Respect
  • Reliability
  • Resilience. 

We want our children to respect others and to be respected.

We want our children to be reliable. To be that person that others turn to and can count on.

We want our children to be resilient. To bounce back. I want my children to be a super ball. As children we remember the awe, how can this little ball store so much energy to bounce so high? bb0273915d14e24a6ec801a138f012f8

That is what I want from my children and, my friends, that is what your parents would want from you.  Today, tomorrow, this month. BOUNCE. Bounce so high you touch the stars. Bounce so high others look at you in awe and wonder, “how can someone store so much energy they can go so high?”

That is the most important lesson. That lesson, I hope, will give you hope and hope to those around you.

I love you both and hope that you can bounce.

What is dying?
I am standing on the seashore.
A ship sails to the morning breeze and starts for the ocean.
She is an object and I stand watching her
Till at last she fades from the horizon,
And someone at my side says, “She is gone!” Gone where?
Gone from my sight, that is all;
She is just as large in the masts, hull and spars as she was when I saw her,
And just as able to bear her load of living freight to its destination.
The diminished size and total loss of sight is in me, not in her;
And just at the moment when someone at my side says, “She is gone”,
There are others who are watching her coming,
And other voices take up a glad shout,
“There she comes” – and that is dying.

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Season of Hope. The Psychology of HOPE

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Talent, skill, ability—whatever you want to call it—will not get you there. Sure, it helps. But a wealth of psychological research over the past few decades show loud and clear that it’s the psychological vehicles that really get you there. You can have the best engine in the world, but if you can’t be bothered to drive it, you won’t get anywhere.

Many have proposed lots of different vehicles over the years. Grit, Conscientiousness, self-efficacy, optimism, passion, inspiration, etc. They are all important. One vehicle, however, is particularly undervalued and underappreciated in psychology and society.

That’s hope.

Hope often gets a bad rap. For some, it conjures up images of a blissfully naïve chump pushing up against a wall with a big smile. or Don Quixote tilting against windmills. That’s a shame. Cutting-edge science shows that hope, at least as defined by psychologists, matters a lot.

Hope is not a brand new concept in psychology. In 1991, the eminent positive psychologist Charles R. Snyder and his colleagues came up with Hope Theory. According to their theory, hope consists of agency and pathways.  The person who has hope has the will and determination that goals will be achieved, and a set of different strategies at their disposal to reach their goals. Put simply: hope involves the will to get there, and different ways to get there.

Why is hope important? Well, life is difficult. There are many obstacles. Having goals is not enough. One has to believe that they can accomplish their goals, amidst all the inevitable twists and turns of life. Hope allows people to approach problems with a mindset and strategy-set suitable to success, thereby increasing the chances they will actually accomplish their goals.
Those lacking hope, tend to adopt mastery goals. People with mastery goals choose easy tasks that don’t offer a challenge or opportunity for growth. When they fail, they quit. People with mastery goals act helpless, and feel a lack of control over their environment. They don’t believe in their capacity to obtain the kind of future they want. They have no hope.

It seems that performance can be enhanced in the short term by reminding people that they have the motivation and the means to pursue a goal. This “situational hope” could potentially be useful in the future as a means of short-term intervention to enhance performance. By reminding people before tests or situations in which performance and achievement are required that they have the will and the ways to do well, possible potential can be better utilized.

Athletes had higher levels of hope than non-athletes. I have seen that among my gymnasts, the state of having hope predicted outcomes beyond training, self-esteem, confidence, and mood.

I like to think that current ability is the best predictor of future success. Important psychological studies show that ability is important, but it’s the vehicles that actually get people where they want to go. Oftentimes, the vehicles even help you build up that ability you never thought you had. And hope—with its will and ways—is one of the most important vehicles of them all.

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A Season of Hope. Chaos Theory

A season of hope.

As the days get shorter and we are facing  long dark and cold nights. The solstice is just weeks away and the days will become longer. This time of year even the smallest gesture can change the world.

In chaos theory, the butterfly effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions in which a small change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state. The name, coined by Edward Lorenz for the effect which had been known long before, is derived from the metaphorical example of the details of a hurricane (exact time of formation, exact path taken) being influenced by minor perturbations such as the flapping of the wings of a distant butterfly several weeks earlier.

The idea, that small causes may have large effects in general and in weather specifically, was used from Henri Poincaré to Norbert Wiener.

 

In The Vocation of Man (1800), Fichte says that “you could not remove a single grain of sand from its place without thereby … changing something throughout all parts of the immeasurable whole”.

 

Yes, one small act you do today can change the world tomorrow. In the 2000 movie Pay It Forward A young boy attempts to make the world a better place after his teacher gives him that chance.  It makes me upset that because of Kevin Spacey being basically a terrible human being that this movie will not be shown again. Who knows, maybe the powers that be will reshoot it with a different cast. The assignment: think of something to change the world and put it into action. Trevor conjures the notion of paying a favor not back, but forward–repaying good deeds not with payback, but with new good deeds done to three new people.

 

 

Today, Tomorrow, whenever, Slow down! Hold a door open for someone. Buy someone a coffee. Heck, buy EVERYONE a coffee!

There are so many opportunities to make the world better. Do it.

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A Season of Hope

I published this series last year and I want to edit and repost it. I am not proud to say that this time of year I struggle with a little bit of depression. I have a GREAT life and an amazing family so it just makes me angry when I feel this way. Writing is a way for me to work through it. I miss friends and family from my youth. I miss my kids when they were little and excited by Christmas.

In April, on my other blog Vacilando, I posted 30 days of peace. It was at a time when I think we, as a country, needed to focus on peace.

Now, 7 months later, let’s focus on HOPE. From now until the New Year I will (hopefully) be  giving you a reason to be hopeful and to share that hope. Because with out HOPE, what’s the point?

As a 51 year old, I have faith in our next generation. I was texting with my son last night and told him that I have more faith in his generation than my own. They are largely engaged, environmentally conscious and see that they can change the world. They still have HOPE in their eyes and their hope gives me hope.

This holiday season these young consumers want to give—and to give back. Speaking to my children I’ve learned they plan to spend more than they did last year on gifts for family and friends. I found statistics for their generation and learned that a substantial majority plans to donate to a favorite cause or to spend time volunteering. Retailers will get in the spirit, too: nearly 75 percent say they will make charitable contributions to celebrate the season. And the good cheer doesn’t end there. Giving back inspires more giving back. Consumers prefer to buy from retailers who translate their values into action, whether it’s in the form of cash donations, commitments to sustainable practices, or community involvement, and many shoppers say they will actually spend more with these brands. It’s clear that giving back is good for business.

This is exciting news and a happy blurring of the lines between what we care about and how and what we buy and sell. Companies can engage consumers with their brands and products by demonstrating a clear sense of social purpose. Consumers have the opportunity to choose companies or products that support the causes they champion. At a time when consumers are increasingly demanding not only great products but companies with values that match their own, the holiday season is an ideal time to bring humanity to buying and selling.

While shoppers of all ages say they will open their hearts and their wallets this year for causes that matter to them, we can expect to see some generational differences. It’s the most digital time of the year, more millennial parents than consumers overall plan to make donations to their favorite charities. And millennials (young, college-educated, upwardly mobile), will increase the size of their charitable donations this year by a larger amount than shoppers in other age groups. But younger consumers won’t be far behind when it comes to spending to support causes they believe in. Gen Z shoppers (ages 16-20) are both brand loyal and loyal to brands that show social impact through their actions.

Younger millennials and members of Gen Z, perhaps because they have grown up in the era of B (benefit) Corporations, for example, when they buy a pair of shoes a pair goes to a child in need, and they expect business to be a force for good.

Make a difference this year by shopping local, shopping with a conscience, giving back to the community. Can’t think of what to get that weird cousin on your dad’s side? Make a donation in their name. Buy them a membership to a historical theater or museum.