It is not easy to be hopeful in today’s world.  The COVID-19 pandemic has no end in sight.  Issues of racism, sexism and violence don’t seem to improve.  And there are no quick  answers to any of these issues.

Within the last five months, our lives have changed dramatically.  In my own household, life is so very different.  We wear masks to the grocery store, Home Depot and the pharmacy.  We no longer go out to dinner or to church on Sundays.  These days, we cook at home, and we spend our weekends doing yard work and organizing the house.

Moreover, it is a difficult time for many.  Many folks are suffering from the virus or have lost loved ones to it.  Some have lost their jobs due to the pandemic restrictions.

As a result, staying hopeful can seem challenging right now.  Below are some ways to keep your hope alive and make the best of what is a difficult time for us all.

Tend to Your Patch of Earth

When considering the ills of this world, it is easy to feel helpless.  I often think about the scores of women and children who are physically and sexually abused in this world, and it pains me.  When I consider the abuse of animals at the hands of sick people, it depresses me.  I am one person, and it frustrates me that there is nothing that I can do as an individual to eradicate all the evil that exists in this world.

That is a fact that each of us, as caring human beings, has to accept.  Realize that at this moment, some person or animal in this world is being hurt, either emotionally or physically, and there is nothing that you or I can do about it.  That is a hard pill to swallow.

The only thing that we can do is to care for our little patch of earth.  Our obligation is to care for the animals and people in our home, and the neighbors in our community.  We also are expected to care for our family members and friends.  And we need to show kindness to the stranger we encounter on the street.  Our patch of earth is our small part of the world that we need to tend.

If we each did just that, if we each cared for our patch of earth, think how much better our world would be.  By simply extending generosity, kindness and compassion, to your small part of the world, you can make a difference.

And depending on our resources, our patch of earth may be much larger than our home or community.  For instance, Bill Gates and Oprah have been blessed with a great deal of resources.  So, their patch of earth extends beyond their small communities.  They have an obligation to help others globally, and they do so.

The bottom line is that neither you nor I can cure the world.  I wish we could, but none of us has that power.  However, we can do our part for our little patch of earth.  And in doing so, we each can make a difference in improving the world.  And that is a reason to be hopeful!

Focus on Encouraging Others

If you feel discouraged right now, I don’t blame you.  Some folks have lost their jobs, and they are trying to figure out how to pay for groceries and rent.  For those of us who are still working, we’ve had to transition to working from home, and we may not be ideally set up to do so.  Or, we may have returned to work, but we are dealing with working while wearing a mask.  Many of our elderly are not able to see their families as regularly as they used to.  It is hard.

However, if we focus too much on what is wrong in the world, we will feel frustrated.  That is why changing our focus is so critical.  Instead of focusing on what is wrong, we need to focus on doing something positive.  Helping and encouraging others is a great way to take our minds off of our worldly concerns.

For example, these days, I’ve been trying to send cards of encouragement whenever I can.  It isn’t an expensive venture.  A card and a stamp cost a couple of dollars.  But the act of surprising someone with a note of good cheer feels great!

As another example, ever since the pandemic started, our church’s pianist has been sending a YouTube video every morning of her playing an inspirational piece.  She is highly talented, and it is a special treat to start each day with one of her beautiful performances.  She is encouraging others with her special gift – her musical talent.

There are so many ways that we can bring positivity to the world.  We just have to think creatively.  In doing so, we can spread hope to others, and in turn, we can feel very hopeful ourselves!

Delight in the Simple Things

Sometimes, when the big things in life feel overwhelming, it helps to take pleasure in the small things.  For instance, years ago, when I was getting divorced, it brought me peace to simply take long walks in nature with my dog (he was thrilled!).  These days, I receive a great deal of comfort by listening to hymns or classical music.

A home-cooked meal, a kind note from a friend, a good cup of coffee – these are simple things to delight in.  None of them cost a lot of money.  They are just things that improve our everyday experience of life.

In fact, whether life is going smoothly or not, we should be in the habit of savoring the little things in life.  When we enjoy the small things – whether it be our morning cup of tea or time spent reading a good book – we create a life that is pleasurable, regardless of what is going on in the world. (For more ideas about enjoying the simpler things in life, click here.)

It is easy to feel sad and frustrated over the current state of affairs in the world, especially when it seems like there is no end in sight to the problems that we face.  Nevertheless, it is important to not lose hope.  I hope you will consider using the above strategies to remain hopeful and at peace.


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