Hope, Happiness and the Soul

This week has been filled with conversations and thoughts about hope.  The range of perspectives from those with whom I have spoken is amazingly diverse and has caused me to consider the nature of hope, where it comes from and its connection to happiness.

We all know people whose life circumstances appear extraordinarily bleak, and yet exude a genuine sense of hopefulness for the future.  And on the flip side, you have surely encountered folks whose lives appear to be pretty good, but who are master curmudgeons, viewing the world in the darkest light.

The poet Seamus Heaney has said that hope is a condition of your soul, not a response to the circumstances in which you find yourself. So does that mean that the state of your soul at a given moment dictates your view of the world?  If that is true, can you actively work to nourish your soul in a way that enhances your chances of being more hopeful? Does a hopeful outlook enhance happiness?

We often hear people talk about engaging in things that ‘feed their soul’.  Perhaps that’s the ticket!  When we do this by participating in activities, conversations, etc. that nourish it, we may, by default, be positioning ourselves to become more hopeful.  This reminds me of the research that is going on currently about the neuroplasticity of the brain.  We used to think that the brain was a pretty static organ once we reached our late teens.  Now we know that isn’t true at all – that we can change the pathways in our brains (and thus the brain itself) by engaging in specific practices that are designed to get us the outcome we desire.  (think meditation or your golf swing).  Perhaps that is the case with our soul too.

I am sure there are scientific studies that have been done that demonstrate the connection, or lack thereof, of hope to happiness.  I considered actually trying to explore that through some online searches, etc.  But this seems so common sense to me that I didn’t spend time on that.  Instead, this week I

  • attended our high school’s orchestra concert (AMAZING!)
  • expanded my understanding of the art world through a conversation with a good friend (I HAD NO IDEA IT WORKED LIKE THAT!)
  • and watched the Detroit Red Wings beat the Chicago Blackhawks (YES!) 

If we are deliberate about feeding our soul on a daily basis, I’d bet on good things happening as a result. What are your plans?

 

 

 

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