There is a strong connection between hope and health. Hope encourages us to try out things that may be beneficial for our health, but without a guarantee that this would occur. Individuals who suffer from hopelessness become victims of their negative reasoning. As a result, they don't try out the possibilities that can have positive outcomes for their problems. Those who act on hope may sure be disappointed at times, but it is also sure that they won't miss out on the opportunities.
Take for example Mr. Hopeful. Mr. Hopeful has just learned from
his doctor that his body's immune system has somehow become low.
He soon comes across a study, which talks about the possible beneficial
effects of Vitamin E on the body's immune system. Mr. Hopeful's
reaction upon reading this study is, "Well I'm going to try Vitamin E for
a while to see if it can work for me." He studies whatever
he can lay his hands on about Vitamin E to answer his questions regarding
the optimal dose, time, natural and synthetic form, etc., and acts on it.
To continue with the example, let's see how Mr. Hopeless reacts. Mr. Hopeless is in an identical situation as that of Mr. Hopeful. Upon reading the same article, Mr. Hopeless entertains a number of negatives thoughts: "If it's that good, why doesn't everybody take it? It may work for someone who has a minor problem like catching cold. My problem is pretty bad. It won't make one bit of difference in my case. I might try these if I ever begin to feel better. If am supposed to get better, why do I have to fool with these silly little things? Look at Joe, he tried everything under the sun, but nothing helped him. I doubt if anything at this point would amount to much. There is no scientific proof that these things can help."
Mr. Hopeless doesn't take any action and thereby doesn't give himself
even a chance. If this is what he is doing about his health, who
knows what else he has missed out on in his life, career, finances, family
life, and other areas?
Hopelessness breeds despair and despondency about the future. Hopeless individuals believe that their problems will never be solved and they will never succeed at what they attempt to do. After all, success is attained through seizing the opportunities and a hopeless person can't see the opportunities. He or she only sees future disappointments. To the mind of a hopeless person, what appears as opportunities and future promises are nothing but future failures and disappointments in disguise.
Hope is like our personal cheerleader in the game of life. It
always eggs us on to do more and then to try a little more. It gives
us strength to struggle when we can't solve the daunting problems in our
normal stride. Hope is optimism. Hope makes sure that we don't
fail to notice the silver lining piercing through the clouds. Hope
makes us spot the rainbows afar off when it rains on our parade near us.
In our long and hard battle with a serious illness, hope is our best ally. Hope aids us in remaining medically compliant. Hopeless individuals show poor treatment compliance. It is sad that many doctors are so careful to not give their patient, a "false hope," that they are almost negligent in giving their patients hope at all. If a patient doesn't have his or her own reservoir of hope, he or she doesn't have much to stake against the odds.
How well do you do in the department of hope? I have adapted a few "hopeful questions" from Beck's scale of hopelessness so you can see for yourself how hopeful you are. A "yes" answer to a question indicates hopefulness and a "no" answer, hopelessness. Be aware that it is an unscientific questionnaire. However, it will give you an idea of what you need to work on in the future to strengthen the hope in your heart. Here are the questions:
Do you look forward to the future with hope and enthusiasm?
Do you believe that you can do a lot to make things better for yourself?
When things are going badly, do you believe that they can't stay that way forever?
Do you believe that your life would be better five or ten years from now?
Do you feel you have enough time to accomplish the things you want to do?
In the long run, do you expect to succeed in what concerns you the most?
All things considered, do you see yourself as a lucky person?
As regards the future, do you expect to get more of the good things in life?
Do you feel what you've learned in life has prepared you well for the future?
When you look ahead to the future, do you expect to be happy and content?
A person who is high on hope should answer most of the questions in the affirmative regardless of the personal circumstances. If you have answered any questions in the negative, don't wait for the better times. Don't tell yourself, "Oh! These answers will automatically change when I begin to feel better." Time to work on them is now and as you work on them that will make you feel better.
file: heart index mindbody medicine
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Copyright 1996, Mind Publications