05 Jan

To live without hope is to cease to live.” – Fyodor Dostoyevsky

I am a feelings person. I believe emotions are very important, and I care a lot about how the people around me feel, even people I don’t know. I like to think I have a special talent for discerning people’s emotions. I empathize—I feel what they feel (which is not always a good thing).
If I had to pick what I think is the most important feeling or emotion, it would be hope. Yes, I love reading and writing romance, and it may seem odd that I would pick hope over love for my “favorite” feeling, but I think Dostoyevsky is right. Human beings cannot live without hope. Despair kills people from the inside out.
The online Oxford Dictionary defines hope as “a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.” I don’t think that definition quite does the word justice. Hope is like light. It brightens a person’s spirit, even when things seem bleak, and it allows people to keep moving forward, even when they stumble and fall. All positive emotions flow from hope. Love (my second “favorite” emotion), trust, confidence, joy, excitement, inspiration, courage—all of these require hope, and none are possible for a heart in despair. Belief in the promise of something wonderful to come allows us to give our love freely, let go of our anxiety, and overcome our fears. Without hope, we are trapped. We can see only the worst in ourselves, in others, and in everything around us. We are paralyzed, afraid. And we feel very, very alone.
Having hope doesn’t mean that everything is going to work out. Sometimes things just don’t turn out the way you want them to. I remember being in my mother’s hospital room twelve years ago as she was taken off life support, looking at her, thinking maybe she would breathe on her own. Maybe she would wake up from her coma and the cancer in her brain would be gone. My hope was irrational. It was absurd. There would be no miracle—my mother passed away several hours later. But even absurd hope serves a purpose.
As we begin the new year, with our resolutions and lists and plans, let us strive to have a more optimistic outlook. Let us always recognize the positive in every situation, and let us help those around us see the best in themselves and their circumstances. Let us allow hope to take root in our hearts, and let us nourish it so that it blossoms and grows so strong and so bright that there is no room for despair, even when despair is the logical response and hope seems absurd.

Here's hoping the New Year will be a good one!

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