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Cultivating Extreme Resilience Towards Sustenance Of Hope During And After Covid-19 Pandemic: A Psychological Approach.

It was Aristotle who said that “hope is a waking dream”. Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness. Aristotle admonishes us in a simple manner; never to lose hope. We must always sustain our hope, for hope has inestimable potential to move mountains.
Fyodor Dostoevsky writes; “to live without hope is to cease to live”. Hence, one can see that in every spectrum of our existence on this planet earth, we need hope and also to sustain that hope.
Why do we need to sustain our hope? The reason is obvious. We live on a broken planet where nothing works correctly. We have terribly bad experiences which we encounter in our daily lives which include, but not limited to, extreme weather conditions, bad economy, health challenges, broken families and relationships, wars, accidents, wanton destruction of lives and properties, terrorist attacks, kidnappings, extreme poverty, and even the current pandemic, Covid- 19. The problems we were facing before Covid- 19 were compounded by the pandemic leading the whole of humanity to utter confusion. It has placed mankind in the dark. How do we sustain our hope? How do we avoid a fall into hopelessness?
The question on how to sustain hope during and after the pandemic Covid-19 is so pertinent because sustenance of hope is as important as having hope. Therefore, I will like to present how to sustain hope in a time like this when people are faced with so many misfortunes that would make one loose hope so fast especially in an extream cases of failures and disappointments.

THE RIGHT MENTAL STATE A KEY APPROACH TOWARD SUSTAINANCE OF HOPE

Let your hopes, not your hurts, shape your future. Remember, hope is a good thing, may be the best of things, and no good thing ever dies. Hope is the companion of power, and mother of all success; for whoever hopes strongly has within him the gift of miracles.
When we see people existing in the spectrum of hopelessness, the most pertinent questions that could be posed are; ” why are people in such state of hopelessness”? “How did they get there”? However, people have different “bad” experiences which may be the reasons why they are in such state of hopelessness and brokenness. Whatever may be the case, the question remains; “Are such reasons and experiences enough to make one loose hope”?
The answer is an emphatic “NO”. Hence, where lies the problem? This becomes a question that needs an urgent answer.
I would think that the problem is that we have a rigid idea of how our lives, the world, the universe should relate to us. We are playing a life match, and we feel that such a life match is a must win, forgetting that even Bacelona lost to Chelsea in their most amazing periods and Bayern Munich lost the Champions league to Chelsea when Chelsea presented their second rate team, for some of their big shots were either injured or have match ban as a result of cards. Why should we then think that we a playing a life match of must win? We should be conscious of the fact that in life everyone has exciting moments and also dark moments. It is in the time of darkness that one has to stay focused in order to see the light. Sometimes, we create our own heartbreak through expectation and this plunges us in to a deep ocean of disappointment and finally crushes us into the state of hopelessness.
But when we are disappointed we are not to loose hope. Martin Luther King, Jr. says that ” We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” Therefore, we must always sustain our hope through a method of cultivating extreme resilience, which would make us become radically different personalities, thinking differently, positively changing narratives, acquiring different models of viewing life, and building strong and formidable characters. It is by so doing that one would become a radically different person with a strong conviction within the atmospheric domain of hope.

UNDERSTANDING THE PSYCHOLOGY OF HOPE: AN INSIGHT TOWARDS THE NEED TO SUSTAIN HOPE

Hope is a conscious act, and it is what one practices in a right and convinced manner. It doesn’t happen on it’s own. You practice and live it out, and it works for you.
Shane J. Lopez who was a psychologist that worked as a senior scientist for Gallup and also a research director of the Don Clifton Strength Institute, in his book, Making Hope Happen: Create the Future You Want for Yourself and Others states:
“I used to think hope was just a warm, vague feeling. It was that sense of excitement that I got before Christmas when I was a child. It lingered a while and then disappeared,”
Lopez, who is a leading researcher of hope, has a different perspective, views hope just like oxygen, just as we can’t live without oxygen, “We can’t live without hope.”
In part one of my article I pointed that
man can exist for weeks without food and water, but can’t exist without hope. Therefore, man is created to be hopeful.
Lopez and his friends conducted three meta-analyses. Their findings showed that hope leads to virtually everything from better performance in school to more success in the workplace to greater happiness overall. According to them, “When we’re excited about ‘what’s next,’ we invest more in our daily life, and we can see beyond current challenges.”

Unfortunately, not many of us measure high in hope, However, hope can be learned. Hopeful people share four core beliefs, according to Lopez:
1.The future will be better than the present.

  1. They realize they have the power to make it.
    3.There are many paths to goals.
  2. None of those paths is free of obstacles

The fourth point on the core beliefs of hopeful people is the most important area people encounter the very real problem that makes them surrender. When we encounter difficulties and obstacles in achieving what we want, when we need to sustain hope. We cannot afford to loose hope. Hope, therefore, calls us to accept the reality that life presents us with. And we should be sure that it must not be easy always.
Lopez distinguishes hope from other terms such as optimism. He notes that optimism is an attitude just like when one thinks and believes that the future has alot of positive things to offer than today. Hope is both the belief in a better future and the action to make it happen.

HOW HOPE AFFECTS OUR BRAIN: AN EXPOSITION TOWARDS SUSTENANCE OF HOPE

According to the Brain Bulletin #47 – “On The Science of Hope” In the bulletin, it is made obvious that hope is important for our brain.
Neuroscientists are investigating the science of hope. It turns out that a feeling of hopefulness changes your brain. Your brain pumps chemicals when experiencing the sensation of hope. These chemicals can block pain and accelerate healing.

Hope, which involves belief and expectation, causes the brain to release neurochemicals called endorphins and enkephalins which actually mimic the effects of morphine. The result is that the brain can overcome hurdles and move to a place of recovery. In scientific terms, hope and recovery are not causally connected, but they are interwoven in relationship.
Hopeful people are happy people and one has no option to be hopeful. We can see that when one loses hope, it can cause damages in the body, and lack of hope kills faster than depression. On the very low end of the hope spectrum are people who have lost the will to live.
Research dating back decades has shown that hopelessness is even more closely associated with suicide than is depression. “Hope is the bedrock of getting out of suicidal states,” says Allen at The Menninger Clinic.

ADAPTING TO THE SITUATION OF THE TIMES: A PANACEA TOWARDS SUSTAINANCE OF HOPE

Adaptation is the evolutionary process where an organism becomes better suited to its habitat. This process takes place over many generations. It is one of the basic phenomena of biology. When people speak about adaptation, they often mean a ‘feature’ (a trait) which helps an animal or plant survive.
Humans as the most superior of all creatures, endowed with the will and the intellect, have intrinsic qualities which help to adapt to any situation.

Looking at the above explanation, I stand to say that it is a tragedy for people to be hopeless amidst the developments and the general achievements by humanity. We should be happier and we should live our lives in a more relaxed manner and fulfilled manner. But we can see that amidst all the great achievements in the world. Humans still suffer to a great extent hopelessness.
However, we must not loose hope because it is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light. Charles Darwin says that ” it is not the strongest of species that survives, neither is it the most intelligent, it is the one that is most adaptable to change.

During the intense lockdown, one of the most captivating jokes that led me into serious reflection on the goals humans set for themselves which upon not achieving them may bring pains and misery was that which presented three Chimpanzees laughing in front of a house saying: ” These Humans said they are going to step on Mars in 2020, Look at them now, they can’t even step out from their houses “
Such jokes are educative and should be a lesson to all in our pursuance of life goals. The question, therefore, becomes; what are those goals and plans that you have set for yourself? And when did you set as time you must achieve those goals and plans? What if it doesn’t happen the way you feel? What if the Idealogical Chimpanzees as in the case of the story above laughs at you, will you shatter? The answer is “No” because you do not have your destiny in your hands. The best approach to life if you want to succeed and not enter into the abyss of hopelessness is to adapt as fast as possible to the life changing situations and experiences. According to Woodrow Wilson, “You are not here merely to make a living, you are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand”.

AT A TIME LIKE THIS HOPEFULNESS COULD MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN YOUR BRAIN

The brain is abiut the most complex organs in the human body.
It is made up of more than 100 billion nerves that communicate in trillions of connections called synapses.
Human brain is an essential part of our body, and it controls every aspect of our body. It controls our emotions feelings and every one of our actions. It controls both our conscious and unconscious activities in our body. Therefore, the information we feed our brain puts us in the emotional state we find ourselves.
The effects of Covid- 19 makes things and times to be difficult, “yes, it is obvious” but the good news is that a feeling of hopefulness can make a real difference! And we cultivate the act of feeling hopeful through being careful with the negative thoughts we entertain with regards to the unfavourable experiences we encounter each pointing time in our life. The question remains, What can one do for the brain to think hopefully? The answer could be simple. We need to feed our brain with biblical, comic, social stories that paint a clear picture of hope, happiness, tranquility, that bring our minds and hearts together in a harmonious manner.
Stories are very important for our brain. Stories do far more than to entertain. Neuroscientists believe that our brains are wired for stories. Stories captivate your brain. They release emotions that are inextricably tied to those of the story’s characters. Brain scientists call this “narrative transport”.
Lopez would opine that hope is contagious. “Your hope is actually dependent on your entire social network, including best friends, role models and secondhand associates. And your hope can be shared with others.”
I believe storytelling has become a casualty of our busy, hectic pace of life. Parents, leaders, teachers….everyone should tell more stories because it would help in activating and sustaining one in the hope spectrum.

CONCLUSION

In order to get the most from feeling hopeful, and sustenance of hope, it must evolve from just being a “feeling” to more of a lifestyle that is reflected in everything you do. However, in order to nurture hope in this way it requires trust and faith in yourself that you can get through any challenge that life throws your way. Moreover, it requires patience and commitment which aid your actions.
You must proactively discipline yourself to avoid hopeless thoughts, which of course involves maintaining control over your attitude and perspective. After all, it is not what happens to you that matters but rather how you interpret what happens, and then subsequently what you do about it that makes all the difference.
May the holy spirit we received on the pentecost day help us to be hopeful always. Amen

Pére Aniobi Johannes


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