On May 19th, 2023, Brian Nandy presented at the TEDxBayonne event about the practice of ACTIVE HOPE. He talked about how hope had to be activated and cultivated to overcome psychological battles, and how one’s envisioned future is dependent upon how active does a person participated in their self-improvement and ambitions. He offers four practical ways to practice active hope, that gets us to unstuck from our despair and propels our potential.
Active Hope: How to win your mental battles
Here are four practical and actionable ideas of Active Hope that were presented at the TEDx Bayonne event on May 19, 2023.
Hope can be defined as a positive emotional state characterized by a belief in the possibility of desirable outcomes or positive changes, even in the face of challenging or uncertain circumstances. It is a feeling of expectation and anticipation that things can improve or progress towards a desired outcome.
Active hope is a concept developed by Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone, which emphasizes taking proactive steps and engaging in meaningful actions to address challenges and create a better future. It goes beyond passive optimism or wishful thinking and involves a conscious commitment to making positive change. Active hope recognizes the interconnectedness of individuals, communities, and the environment and encourages active participation in shaping a more desirable future.
It’s important to note that hope does not guarantee specific outcomes, but it provides us with the motivation, resilience, and belief in our capacity to navigate challenges and pursue a better future. Cultivating hope involves developing a positive mindset, setting realistic goals, seeking support from others, and maintaining a sense of optimism even in the face of difficulties.
Here are four practical and actionable ideas of how Active Hope can counter one’s psychological battles.
“When in Doubt, Instruct Yourself”
The power to instruct yourself, often referred to as self-instruction or self-teaching, is a valuable skill that allows individuals to learn and acquire knowledge independently. It involves the ability to set goals, identify resources, and develop strategies to learn new concepts or skills without external guidance or formal instruction.
Positive self-instruction refers to the practice of using positive and encouraging self-talk to promote self-belief, motivation, and resilience. It involves consciously replacing negative or unhelpful thoughts with constructive and affirming statements. Here’s an example of positive self-instruction:
“I am capable and confident. I have the skills and knowledge to tackle any challenge that comes my way. Mistakes are opportunities for growth, and I will learn from them. I am resilient and can overcome obstacles. I believe in myself and my ability to succeed. I am deserving of happiness and success, and I will work hard to achieve my goals. I am proud of what I have accomplished, and I am excited about the future. I am strong, capable, and deserving of love and respect. I am enough.”
Positive self-instruction and hope are interconnected concepts that can mutually influence each other in various ways. Let’s explore the connection between positive self-instruction and hope:
- Positive Self-Talk: Positive self-instruction involves consciously directing positive and encouraging thoughts towards oneself. It entails using affirmations, positive statements, or self-encouragement to promote a positive mindset and self-belief. Positive self-talk can help individuals reframe challenges, overcome self-doubt, and build resilience. By cultivating a positive internal dialogue, individuals can foster hope by maintaining a positive outlook and belief in their ability to overcome obstacles and achieve their goals.
- Enhancing Self-Efficacy: Self-efficacy refers to an individual’s belief in their own capabilities to successfully perform specific tasks and achieve desired outcomes. Positive self-instruction plays a significant role in enhancing self-efficacy. By using positive affirmations and self-encouragement, individuals can bolster their belief in their ability to overcome challenges and accomplish their goals. This increased self-efficacy contributes to a greater sense of hope by instilling confidence and motivation in one’s ability to create positive change.
- Reframing Challenges: Positive self-instruction helps individuals reframe challenges and setbacks in a more constructive and optimistic light. Instead of viewing difficulties as insurmountable obstacles, individuals can use positive self-talk to reframe them as opportunities for growth, learning, and resilience. By reframing challenges, individuals maintain a hopeful perspective, viewing setbacks as temporary and manageable hurdles rather than permanent barriers.
- Cultivating Optimism: Positive self-instruction fosters optimism, which is closely associated with hope. Optimism involves a positive expectation for the future and the belief that things will work out for the best. By engaging in positive self-talk, individuals cultivate an optimistic mindset, focusing on possibilities and positive outcomes. This optimistic mindset nurtures hope by sustaining a belief in a better future and motivating individuals to take action towards their desired goals.
- Building Emotional Resilience: Positive self-instruction contributes to emotional resilience by promoting adaptive coping strategies and self-supportive thoughts. When faced with adversity, individuals can use positive self-talk to provide comfort, encouragement, and reassurance. This self-supportive approach enhances emotional resilience, allowing individuals to bounce back from setbacks and maintain a hopeful outlook.
- Empowering Action: Positive self-instruction can empower individuals to take proactive steps towards their goals. By cultivating a positive internal dialogue, individuals develop a greater sense of agency and motivation to pursue actions aligned with their hopes and aspirations. Positive self-talk acts as a self-motivator, encouraging individuals to persist in the face of challenges and maintain active engagement in creating a better future.
Remember, positive self-instruction is a powerful tool that can help shape your mindset and boost your self-confidence. By consistently using positive self-talk, you can create a more positive and empowering inner dialogue, which can have a significant impact on your overall well-being and success.
In summary, positive self-instruction and hope are closely intertwined. Positive self-talk enhances self-efficacy, reframes challenges, cultivates optimism, builds emotional resilience, and empowers action. By consciously directing positive thoughts towards oneself, individuals foster a hopeful mindset, strengthen their belief in their ability to achieve their goals, and maintain an optimistic outlook on life’s possibilities.
“When you can’t think, RUN!…but not from your problems”
There were times when instructing myself did not work. When I couldn’t think, I became restless, and just needed to move. For me, that need to move, to not feel restless – was to go for a run. And I ran every day!… think Forrest Gump! Running helped me pace my thoughts. Running offered me a sense of control & freedom from the tyranny of my thoughts.
Physical movement, hope and psychological control are closely connected and can influence each other in various ways. Here are some key aspects of their relationship:
- Cathartic Release and Emotional Well-being: Physical movement can serve as a means of cathartic release, allowing individuals to express and process emotions. Engaging in activities like dancing, yoga, or aerobic exercise can help release tension, reduce negative emotions, and promote emotional well-being. By experiencing emotional release and regulation through physical movement, individuals can cultivate a more hopeful and optimistic mindset.
- Body-Mind Connection: Physical movement and psychological control are intertwined through the body-mind connection. Engaging in physical activity can have a direct impact on mental states and emotional well-being. Exercise, for example, releases endorphins, which are neurotransmitters associated with improved mood and reduced stress. This positive influence on mental states can enhance a sense of psychological control.
- Sense of Agency: Physical movement allows individuals to exercise their sense of agency and control over their bodies. Through intentional actions and movements, people can feel a sense of mastery and accomplishment. This can contribute to an increased perception of control over one’s own life and circumstances, leading to improved self-esteem and well-being.
- Mindfulness and Body Awareness: Physical movement can promote mindfulness and body awareness, both of which are essential for psychological control. Mindfulness involves non-judgmental awareness of the present moment, including bodily sensations. By paying attention to the body during movement, individuals can enhance their ability to regulate their actions and responses, improving their overall sense of control.
- Embodied Cognition: Embodied cognition suggests that cognition is not solely a function of the brain but is also influenced by the body and its movements. Studies have shown that physical movements, such as gestures or postures, can impact cognitive processes such as memory, problem-solving, and decision-making. By consciously controlling their movements, individuals can potentially enhance their cognitive functioning and exert more control over their thoughts and behaviors.
Overall, physical movement can have a profound impact on psychological control by influencing emotions, promoting a sense of agency, enhancing body awareness, and improving cognitive functioning. By actively engaging in physical activities and paying attention to the body, individuals can cultivate a greater sense of control over their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.
“When you can’t shift, tilt”
Sometimes actively hoping and being positive is exhausting. When I’m exhausted, shifting my perspective is too much to ask for- all I could do- is tilt my thoughts.
What’s a tilt? … It’s a mini-move, a micro shift. It’s to do the bare minimum to move in a positive direction.
In my younger days, sometimes my stress was compounded by debilitating migraines.
On those days, I’d say to myself, “do something simple Brian…what would a tilt look like?“
One time, I remember saying to myself, “For now I can be still… for today, I can be easy with myself.”
We often believe we need to make big changes. Tilting is about the simplest of actions that keep hope alive.
While “perspective tilt” is not a commonly used term, we can still explore how it relates to active hope.
Tilting your perspective is a slight adjustment or shift in one’s perspective. It suggests a subtle change in how one perceives and understands a situation without a complete overhaul of one’s worldview. As mentioned earlier, active hope involves proactive engagement and taking meaningful actions to address challenges and work towards a better future. It emphasizes the role of agency, commitment, and resilience in effecting positive change.
Now, let’s explore the potential relationship between perspective tilt and active hope:
- Opening up to new possibilities: A perspective tilt, however small, can help expand one’s view and open up new possibilities. It allows for a broader range of perspectives, ideas, and potential solutions. By being open to different ways of thinking, individuals can cultivate active hope and explore novel approaches to tackle challenges.
- Challenging limiting beliefs: A slight shift in perspective can challenge entrenched or limiting beliefs that may impede active hope. By questioning assumptions and considering alternative viewpoints, individuals can overcome pessimism or feelings of powerlessness. This can enable them to embrace active hope and take steps towards positive change.
- Incremental progress and action: A perspective tilt may also help individuals recognize the value of incremental progress and small steps towards their goals. It can foster a sense of optimism and encourage individuals to engage in concrete actions aligned with active hope. By acknowledging that even small changes can make a difference, individuals can sustain their commitment and stay motivated.
- Resilience and adaptability: A perspective tilt can contribute to building resilience and adaptability, important qualities for maintaining active hope. By being open to new perspectives and adjusting one’s viewpoint, individuals can better navigate challenges and setbacks. This flexibility allows for adjustments in strategies and the ability to persevere in the face of adversity.
In summary, perspective shift and active hope are interconnected and mutually reinforcing. A perspective shift can inspire active hope by expanding our vision, challenging limiting beliefs, fostering resilience, and promoting creative problem-solving. Small shifts in one’s perspective can have a positive impact on active hope. By remaining open-minded, challenging limiting beliefs, taking incremental steps, and cultivating resilience, individuals can nurture their active hope and contribute to positive change in their lives and the world around them. By cultivating an open and adaptive mindset, we can harness the power of perspective shift to fuel our active engagement in creating a better future.
“When you’re stuck & lost, get curious.”
Sometimes you can deliberately instruct yourself, run, or tilt your perspective… and still feel utterly confused and stuck.
Curiosity and active hope are interconnected in several ways. Let’s explore the connection between these two concepts:
- Fostering Possibility Thinking: Curiosity has the ability to lower your sense of fear. Curiosity is driven by a natural inclination to explore, learn, and discover new things. When we approach life with curiosity, we open ourselves up to a mindset of possibility thinking. We become interested in what could be, rather than being limited by what currently exists. This mindset aligns with active hope, as it encourages us to envision and actively work towards a better future.
- Motivating Exploration and Action: Curiosity fuels a sense of wonder and a desire to understand the world around us. It motivates us to ask questions, seek answers, and explore different avenues. In the context of active hope, curiosity serves as a catalyst for taking action. When we are curious about a particular issue or challenge, we are more likely to engage in proactive behaviors and seek solutions. Curiosity drives us to actively pursue change and contribute to creating a better future.
- Overcoming Obstacles and Challenges: Curiosity is closely linked to resilience and adaptability. When faced with obstacles or setbacks, curiosity encourages us to approach them with a problem-solving mindset. We become curious about potential alternatives, strategies, or perspectives that can help us navigate challenges. This resilience and adaptability are vital components of active hope, as they enable us to persevere and find new pathways towards our goals.
- Generating Optimism and Positive Engagement: Curiosity often leads to the discovery of new knowledge and experiences. It exposes us to different perspectives and possibilities, which can generate a sense of optimism and positive engagement. This optimism is a key driver of active hope, as it fuels our belief that positive change is possible and motivates us to take action towards that change.
- Continual Growth and Learning: Curiosity is a lifelong trait that promotes continuous growth and learning. It encourages us to seek new information, challenge our assumptions, and embrace personal development. Active hope similarly involves a commitment to ongoing growth and learning, as we actively engage in actions and efforts to create a better future. Curiosity supports this commitment by fostering a mindset of lifelong learning and improvement.
In summary, curiosity and active hope are interconnected as curiosity nurtures a mindset of possibility thinking, motivates exploration and action, aids in overcoming obstacles, generates optimism, and promotes continual growth and learning. Embracing curiosity can enhance our active hope by inspiring us to actively seek solutions, remain resilient in the face of challenges, and maintain an optimistic outlook as we work towards a better future.
Hope can be exhilarating & frightening.
It can lead us into darkness, or lead us out of dark times.
Hope can be blind & hope can be illuminating.
The distinction is how active, however small, do you participate in what you hope for.
So… when you’re in doubt, you can instruct yourself.
When you can’t think, you can run (but not from your problems)
When you can’t shift, try to tilt.
And when you feel lost, allow yourself, to be led, by the wisdom of your curiosity.