Have You H.O.P.E.D. Today?

February 10, 2013

We all have barriers to hope. We may linger with them temporarily or cling to them because it’s all we know. There is no need to beat yourself up over them. Merely acknowledge that they exist, journal about what triggers them and recognize when you are dwelling in the company of doubt or worry. You have the power to swap those thoughts for what you truly wish to pull into your life—happiness, fulfillment, success and, of course, hope.

Time and life have shown me, over and over again, that helping others can help crumble our barriers, amp up our self-confidence and dissolve the perceived bricks that make up our emotional walls. Helping others brings us full circle to help ourselves.

Knowing that the troubled mind, the grief-stricken spirit and the stressed consciousness may not process concepts as quickly, I chose to create a mnemonic device to help you remember this principle: H.O.P.E.D.

Humbly
Offer
Personal
Empathy
Daily

Why Humbly, you ask? First, humility is not the same as doormat. Humility is honor in a simple form. Being humble transcends the barriers of others to encourage them to share, to be vulnerable and to seek your gifts. Humbly means you don’t have to have all the answers, rush to fix or do more than be your glorious self. Simply stated, “Put your pride aside.”

To Offer is to present an opportunity with the mindset that you are ready to engage that person or provide assistance. It takes a multitude of forms, from offering to hold space for a lost stranger to offering to walk a cart back for a fellow store patron. The key with the verb offer is that two paths are built in—accept or decline. By offering, it does not guarantee the recipient will take you up on the idea, time or help. In fact, be prepared to return to step one and “humbly” walk away. It’s ok. Offers are not obligations, nor are they requirements of others. It is not an assessment of your value or the merit of the offer; it’s timing.

Moving to Personal, this is a crucial piece. To feel the full glow of giving, helping or transforming, you must make a personal effort. It has to have quality, depth and authenticity behind it. To humbly offer but not really mean it, or to be distracted and not actively listen, is merely going through the motions. Chiseling away at your barriers and gaining spiritual maturity call for personal investment beyond the pleasantries of social convention and the facades of public expectation. Just one word of clarification, personal does not mean that you have to spill your life story or go beyond your intuitive comfort zone. Just be real.

Ah, next is Empathy. This characteristic is near and dear to me. It is both innate and learned. Yes, it can be learned. Empathy is not sympathy or pity. It is choosing to understand the motivations, feelings, experiences and desires of another without taking those emotions into your being. And unlike sympathy, empathy does not have to be sparked by misfortune or sorrow. Empathy is so much more powerful. It is also the most challenging aspect of the H.O.P.E.D. acronym. In fact, the first three concepts (Humbly, Offer, Personal) build you up to this step. To grow in empathy, you must exercise it. You must humble yourself to be receptive to others, offering a willing ear and open heart, personally expanding your way of seeing the world to embrace the individual before you without judgment. In turn, it helps us evolve in emotional wisdom.

Finally, we find Daily. As someone who is not a fan of repetition, boredom, stagnation or routine, I can tell you that I chose daily very thoughtfully. So, let me shoot straight: the H.O.P.E.D. principle requires activity to deliver its full benefit. It, like you, needs a loving investment daily. And, like all good life habits, it will feel more natural with time.

In essence, the goal is to Help One Person Every Day without seeking notoriety, reward or even acknowledgment. There is something deep and lasting in doing good. The enhanced sense of worth, joy and connection that results may be all you H.O.P.E.D. for and more.

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