Posts Tagged ‘hope’

Hope is the Thing with Feathers

September 25, 2017

“Hope springs eternal.” Does it really? Or is this just a nice quote that sounds good until you’re going through tough times at which point it doesn’t offer much comfort? I guess it is for each person to decide.

Here’s what I think hope is NOT: It is not about being a Pollyanna. It is not thinking that everything you wish for will come true. It is not about unrealistic expectations.

Hope is the belief in possibilities. It is an understanding that things can change for the better; where you are today doesn’t have to be where you will be in the future. Hope is what keeps us afloat when we feel like we’re drowning in fear, disappointment, or sadness. It is a beacon of light in a dark and stormy sea. I like to think of hope as Holding Onto Positive Expectations.

Sometimes it is difficult to find hope in desperate situations. When we are feeling overwhelmed, it seems easier to give in to despair…but there is nothing positive at the end of that path!

If you are feeling as if hoping is pointless, consider this: Hope is a cognitive system that can propel us into action. Whereas optimism suggests a feeling that everything will turn out alright, hope involves working toward making that happen. When we have hope, we tend to set goals and come up with creative ideas to help us reach them.

In hoping, we acknowledge that there is something worthwhile ahead of us, even though we may have come up against some powerful barriers. Hope allows us to go on. Emily Dickinson expressed it beautifully this way…

“Hope is the thing with feathers

That perches in the soul

And sings the tune without the words

And never stops at all.”

 

I would love to work with you and your organization. http://www.lindahenley-smith.com   laughlady1950@gmail.com

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Finding the Prize Inside

July 12, 2017

If you have ever opened a box of Cracker Jack, you may remember how fun it is to dig through the layers of whatever Cracker Jack is made of to find that little prize hidden somewhere inside!

We all have prizes hidden inside of us, too; talents we have not discovered, dreams that have yet to be fulfilled, and joy that is has been buried by layers of disappointments, fears, regrets, and lots of other negative stuff.

Obviously, the longer we live, the more experiences we have and unless we live in a fantasy bubble, there will be some unpleasant ones. But there will also be plenty of joyful times and it’s up to each one of us to decide which experiences we honor and keep in our hearts.

At some point, someone is going to hurt your feelings, say something unkind, or undermine your self-confidence. You will try something and fail. Your efforts may fall short. You can expect that you may meet someone along the way who doesn’t think you are wonderful. You may lose hope. That’s life and each disappointment gets you one step closer to the true abiding joy that can only come from deep within you!

It makes me sad to hear people say that they have given up on their dreams or that they can no longer find joy in life. Someone has convinced them that they have missed their window of opportunity for happiness and encouraged them to be more “realistic.” Too often, we fall victim to messages from advertisers, magazines, social media, and even people in our circle of friends and families. We believe the naysayers more than we believe in ourselves and we bury our hope and joy under layers of negativity and fear; they just stay hidden like the prizes in the Cracker Jack box….until we dig them out!

My style of Cracker Jack eating was always to dump everything out of the box and go directly to the little toy hidden in there. I think that may be a good strategy for getting to the prize inside of every one of us so we can enjoy our gifts and share them with the world.

Where Will You Find Your Hallelujah?

November 15, 2016

Since his death, there has been a lot of talk about Leonard Cohen’s beautiful song titled simply “Hallelujah.” There are many interpretations of this piece; and there have been several versions and even word changes but there is no altering the emotional impact of the haunting tune and the powerful and deep meaning of the word Hallelujah.

Everyone’s hallelujah comes from within and no doubt from a place unique unto every individual. The word comes from the Hebrew language and is composed of two elements; praise, and the name of God. Whether or not you are a religious person, when we are moved to say it, the very word comes from deep inside of us and can be called to mind in times of despair as well as in times of joy.

When we have been deeply wounded by a tragedy and are feeling lost and confused, eventually there will be a glimmer of light in our darkness and it is then that we are moved to cry hallelujah in gratitude and relief. Cohen’s lyrics address this in musical terms referring to a song whose melody reflects a minor fall and then rises in a major lift. That is life. There are the somber and troubling times, but if we endure with hope and belief in possibilities, there will once again be a time for joy and a reason for Hallelujah.

In these troubled times, we are seeing a vast span of emotions being expressed by people all around us and those emotions are making themselves known in a variety of ways. It is up to each one of us whether we raise our arms in rage or lift them in a personal hallelujah. Hallelujah is a symbol of hope and gratitude and a cause for joy.

No matter how troubled we may feel in any situation; there is always the hope of a Hallelujah moment if we will focus on the possibilities. Sometimes when we feel as if we are in a dark pit, it’s good to remember that when we are down, we are in a good position to look up and see the light. If we feel broken and cracked, it’s helpful to remember that there is a crack in everything…that’s how the light gets in. I didn’t make that up; it’s another Leonard Cohen lyric, but I’m sure he wouldn’t mind if I used it.

 

Linda Henley-Smith is a speaker and coach who can be reached at:

linda@lindahenley-smith.com

Haven’t Got Room for the Pain!

August 30, 2016

It doesn’t take much for me to get clogged up and it can be painful! Don’t jump to conclusions….I’m not talking about digestive woes, I am referring to Brain Clog.

From what I am hearing from other people, this is a common condition and it seems to be worsening with all of the things that are currently going on in the world. So many seem to be living with brain clutter and they are finding it difficult to turn down the noise in their heads. I can relate! When my head is stuffed full of worries, anger, fear, and negativity, it almost seems as if my brain can’t breathe! I know that sounds odd, but that’s the way it feels sometimes.

Brain Clog can be dangerous and can lead to suffering overload. Maybe you remember the Carly Simon song, “Haven’t Got Time for the Pain.” Of course she is singing to someone who has ended the pain of her loneliness and bad relationships, but I see the words being applicable to what happens when we are spinning into a cycle of hopelessness and negativity….when we begin to believe that suffering is all we can expect in this world. That is what happens when we constantly anticipate trouble and don’t allow ourselves to look for the good things like possibilities and hope and kindness. It’s what caused an acquaintance of mine to say that if it weren’t for stress, she would have no feelings at all. Yikes! Take a look at these lyrics:

Suffering was the only thing that made me feel I was alive…thought that’s just how much it costs to survive in this world, ’til you showed me how to fill my heart with love; how to open up and drink in all that white light pouring down from the heavens. Now I haven’t got room for the pain……. 

Now apply those words to what happens when you allow yourself to step away from the madness of the news reports and the unkindness that seems to rear its ugly head every now and then. If you take a mental broom and sweep out the stuff that is not serving you well, you make room for the good things to come in! When you “drink in all that white light pouring down” you fill your brain with more productive thoughts and you no longer have room for the pain! Does it mean that your life will be carefree? Probably not….but it will be a heck of a lot better when you learn how to process the bad times and don’t store them up. If you keep them too long, they soon will be like garbage and stink up your whole mind!

Joy, laughter, friendship, kindness, and hope are some of the best brain de-cloggers I know! They are the main ingredients in Braino! I made that up, but I like it.

 

Linda Henley-Smith is a speaker, trainer and life planning coach. http://www.lindahenley-smith.com

What to Do When the World is Hurting

June 16, 2016

Earth-crying2

Sometimes it feels as if the world has gone mad! The tragedies of this past week have taken most of us to the brink of tears, if not pushed us over the edge! We are filled with confusion about how such things can happen, and grief for those directly affected by the horrific events. With the constant reminders of the evil that has caused these things, our anger grows and begins to manifest itself in physical and emotional exhaustion and even depression.

Tragic events create a tremendous amount of stress and anxiety, even for those of us who watch and hear about it on our televisions and other news sources. When we witness others experiencing unspeakable horrors, we feel it as well because we are all connected as human beings. We find ourselves in a tsunami of emotions, and often fear and anger emerge as the prominent ones.

So how do we keep from being dragged into a negative whirlpool? How do we heal? How can we help to make things better? Here are some things I have found to be helpful:

Even if the tragedy hasn’t directly affected you or a loved one, you may need to go through the steps of dealing with loss. The key is to realize that you can certainly feel compassion for others without staying permanently in a state of mourning.

• If you are overwhelmed, limit your media exposure relating to the disastrous event. This is difficult, because we are exposed to constant replaying of tragedies. Some people feel empowered by continually watching the coverage of the aftermath and recovery, but if it upsets you, turn it off. Choosing not to relive it over and over doesn’t mean you don’t feel compassion for the victims.

• Channel your anger. Of course we should all feel offended by the hatred that causes such horrible events, but we need to use it as an impetus for doing something positive. Volunteer, donate, express support for victims, or participate in any positive activity that will keep you from feeling helpless and frightened.

• Don’t forget joy. It seems counterintuitive to feel a sense of joy when others are experiencing such pain. But joy doesn’t mean that you are skipping around and pretending nothing happened, nor is it always about being carefree. Joy is a part of who we are as human beings; it is a starting point for healing. To find joy is to find that place in your heart which defies hopelessness!

• Become proactive in spreading kindness. Although our first reaction is often to make our point with violence and rage; standing up for what we believe is sometimes more effectively communicated with an attitude of confident kindness. Perpetuating hatred does nothing but spawn more vitriolic talk and actions.

Linda Henley-Smith is a speaker and life mentor. www.lindahenley-smith.com 

 

What I Know For Sure!

January 3, 2016

We recently celebrated New Year’s Eve, and people all over the world partied with funny hats, noise-makers and champagne. There was even a big celebration in Times Square and I choose to believe that it was all in honor of my birthday. I think I truly believed that for the first 15 years of my life!

Yes, I had another birth anniversary and I am now older than I have ever been before! I really don’t know how to be this old because in my head, I am about 20….which is difficult to understand, because I have a grandson that age! Go figure!

One of the blessings of getting older is clarifying and declaring things that you know for sure! Experience teaches us what is right for us, and some truths become irrefutable! And so because I was born when dinosaurs roamed the earth, I now share with you some truths which have stood the test of time for me and have proven to be worthy of passing on to others.

Truth #1: It is important to like yourself because you can’t expect others to like you, if you don’t! More importantly…everywhere you go, there you will be! You will never get away from yourself, so you may as well learn to like you!

Truth #2: Do not become addicted to the approval of others! You will never please everyone, and there will be people who don’t like you no matter what you do. Hold fast to your values and always be authentic and true to yourself.

Truth #3: Let your hope be greater than your fear. Don’t spend any time walking through fear storms and avoid creating a negative “atmosFEAR.” Choose to think of hope as Holding On to Positive Expectations.

Truth #4: Give away more than you take in; both in material things and in helping others. After a while, you will probably realize that you have accumulated a lot of “stuff” that you thought was important but you really don’t need. And you will also more than likely begin to understand that the best way to move away from your own troubles is to help someone else. Begin to unclutter your life and your brain.

Truth #5: Life is full of seasons; some last longer than others. Learn to appreciate when times are good and learn not to despair when things aren’t going so well. Situations can change in the blink of an eye and nothing is forever.

Truth #6: Be kind. In today’s world, kindness can be difficult to find. So many people are frightened, and that makes them angry. Remember that being unkind or criticizing someone’s efforts doesn’t elevate you and encouraging someone else certainly doesn’t diminish your accomplishments! Don’t hold grudges because carrying around anger just makes your arms tired!

Truth #7: Laugh a lot! Laughter doesn’t make everything better for you, but it sure makes you better for everything!

I wish you blessings and joy for a healthy and happy New Year!

Linda Henley-Smith is a speaker, author and coach who believes that joy is possible! Visit her website at www.lindahenley-smith.com

Walking Through Fear Storms

November 16, 2015

It has been said that “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear.”

In today’s world, fearsome things are swirling all around us; things that we never could have imagined. Terror is in every headline and fear is at epidemic proportions. Some of the anchors on which we relied have disappeared and we are living in a polluted “atmosfear.”

People can be afraid of any number of things…the dark, being alone, snakes, spiders, heights, water, flying, politicians, giant meatballs, etc. Personally, I am afraid of trying on bathing suits. Some are afraid of dying, but worse…many are afraid of living, because of the risks. Some of our fears are unfounded and we need to separate those from the real threats. Sadly, the events of the past few days are looming large over our sense of security and peace.

Fear is a paralyzing vampire that chokes and sucks the joy right out of our souls! We are mostly afraid of things that we cannot control. So when the world seems to be topsy turvy, how do we move through the fear storms?   Referring to the above quote, courage is the judgement that something else is more important than fear. So how do we connect with this courage?

Here are some steps I have found to be helpful when I feel that I am succumbing to “interfearance.”

  1. We do not have to be a reflection of the negativity that is occurring. What is happening on the outside doesn’t have to be what is happening on the inside. When we see the horror unfolding and we can’t change it, what we CAN change is the way we are letting it affect us. Easier said than done, of course…but it is possible. When we allow fear to consume us and live as if we are doomed, of course we will find little peace.
  2. We should let our hope be greater than our fear. When we lose hope, we lose ground in our battle against fear. I like to think of hope as Holding Onto Positive Expectations. Hope is much more powerful than we give it credit for being. If we want to live in a world that is richer in love and joy, we must not feed our fear but we should nourish our hope!
  3. Don’t desert laughter and joy! Some may think that it is disrespectful, frivolous or useless to practice laughter in times of great challenge. Ding Dong…that is wrong! Appropriate laughter is always healthy and participating in it certainly doesn’t disrespect a terrible situation; indeed, it is just the opposite. Allowing ourselves to be robbed of joy is much more disrespectful than taking a stand against fear. Nothing is gained by falling into a pit of despair, and evil thrives on hopelessness. We should surround ourselves with positive people and support one another in our search for hope and joy. We should not let terror shut down our dreams, but rather live the words of Nelson Mandela, “May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.”

 

“No passion so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear.” —Edmund Burke

Linda Henley-Smith is an author, speaker and trainer. Check out her website at www.lindahenley-smith.com

 

What’s In It For Me?

September 29, 2014

This is a question that drives almost every decision that we make. Those words are subconscious messages from the naughty little voices that we sometimes hear chattering in the back of our minds. Sadly, they sometimes prevent us from doing the right thing because our egos stand in the way.

Most of us want to do the right thing, but life can get complicated and the world seems to be going at such a fast pace. It sometimes feels as if we can barely hang on and handle our own challenges without taking on someone else’s issues. And there are those situations which involve someone hurting our feelings or competing with us for something we want or need. Are we really supposed to step out of our own ego bubbles and defy our “I have to look out for number one” inclinations?

For instance, here are some possible scenarios: If someone hurts me, why should I forgive him? Sure…he may be off the hook for what he did, but what’s in it for me? Someone needs help; I really don’t have the time and it will be an inconvenience. Lending a hand would make life much easier for someone else, but what’s in it for me? After all, we all need to look out for ourselves, don’t we? Someone is being mistreated or bullied. I could intervene and stand up for him, but then I would have to get involved and if I do that…what’s in it for me?

Yikes! What a dilemma! Or is it? Speaking for myself and my own experiences, here is what I have found to be the answer to what’s in it for me:

• The phrase, “what goes around, comes around” is true most of the time. What we send out usually returns to us. Negativity and mean spiritedness usually come back to bite you in the booty; kindness returns to you tenfold. We reap what we sow.
• There is more peace in stepping out of yourself than there is in building walls around yourself. When you practice kindness for kindness’ sake, you find that the question of what you’re going to get out of it appears less frequently in your thoughts. There is a kind of contentment that comes with giving and forgiving without expecting acknowledgement or credit.
• There is a lot to be said for paying it forward. Attitude is like ripples in a pond when a stone has been thrown in. When you are kind to someone, you are increasing the likelihood of that person passing it on to others. It is the gift that keeps on giving. And it works in reverse; as well…snarkiness breeds snarkiness. Don’t be the one who starts the snarky cycle.

The world has a way of balancing things out. But if you are still having trouble doing the right thing because you’re not sure what’s in it for you, reward yourself with chocolate. It works for me! But…I’m easily bribed.

Nature (and my dog) Hates a Vacuum

June 16, 2014

At the risk of setting everyone off on a “Frozen” song, I am going to mention the words “Let it Go.” Now that the song is stuck in your head and you probably hate me for bringing it up, I shall continue on.

Anyone who has ever experienced heartache, confusion, fear, disappointment or upheaval knows that eventually you have to process what has happened, accept that you have been bumped out of your comfort zone and your life has probably been changed a bit.
And most of us have learned that if we are to continue to move ahead in life, we have to unstick our feet from the wastewater of worldly woe (don’t you love that?) and release any negativity that has resulted from a difficult situation. It is important to turn loose of the emotional baggage that is no longer serving us well. We have to face the negativity, stop hiding behind it, and be willing to let it go.

But there is another part of the puzzle and that is that nature abhors a vacuum. I think Aristotle said that. My dog also abhors vacuums and he hides from them under the bed, but he is not as famous as Aristotle. Obviously, Aristotle was not referring to a Hoover; what he meant was that when something goes away, the place it occupied needs to be filled with something else. In this case, when we release our negative thought patterns, they need to be replaced with some positive ones.

The first step is to introduce some new ideas and possibilities into your thoughts and get in the habit of practicing positive thought replacement. Rather than focusing on what you have lost, try to think of something positive that may have come from the situation. I recently talked with a woman who was trying to recover from a major financial crisis. She told me that until this happened; she never had realized or appreciated how many supportive friends she had. Her words were, “Believe it or not, I have reconnected with so many people who are willing and even happy to help me pick up the pieces and start again. Were it not for what I thought of as a disaster in my life, I would never have known just how blessed I really am!”

The next step is to train your brain to live in the present; not in the past. Your newer and more positive thought patterns will help to pave the way for healthier, productive emotions and attitudes. Whenever an old self-defeating thought or negative self-talk tries to make a comeback, immediately make a list of things for which you are grateful. An attitude of gratitude will get you farther than getting stuck in the mental mud.

Remember than negative thoughts have no power other than that which you give them. You can nurture them or take away their strength by simply capturing them the moment they come into your head and mentally eliminating them. I picture my negative thoughts as balloons and visualize myself popping them. That’s my positive replacement thought and it’s kind of fun.

Finally, understand that being positive is not ducking reality or thinking like a Pollyanna. It simply means that you realize that there are alternatives to sinking into a pit of despair!

Rebuilding With Hope

May 19, 2014

Those who know me well are aware that I often refer to the lyrics of songs to illustrate my points. Sometimes the words of a song or a poem will express what I want to say in far better ways than I could ever present it.

There are times when life throws us some unexpected lemons and we really don’t feel like using them to make lemonade. As a matter of fact, it would probably give us a lot more satisfaction to throw those lemons at the ones who have caused us pain!

When someone or something pulls the rug out from under you and it feels as if your foundation is crumbling, you have a choice as to how you are going to let it affect you. Feeling anger, disappointment and confusion are normal reactions…for a little while. We need all of those emotions in order to process what has happened but if we allow them to linger too long in our minds, they begin to take root.

Before too long, it’s a good idea to replace those negative feelings with something that will actually allow us to heal and grow rather than to keep us feeling empty and hollow. That is where hope comes into the picture. Hope fills up all the broken and empty places and helps to make us whole once again. I like to think of it this way: Holding On to Positive Expectations.

If you replace fear, doubt and frustration with the belief that you can recover, regroup and rebuild; you will enjoy a future of possibilities rather than continue to live in remnants of the past.

Consider these words from the musical “Godspell”…

WHEN YOUR TRUST IS ALL BUT SHATTERED
WHEN YOUR FAITH IS ALL BUT KILLED
YOU CAN GIVE UP, BITTER AND BATTERED
OR YOU CAN SLOWLY START TO BUILD