“My country is the world, and my religion is to do good.” ~Thomas Paine
On the days when I am feeling low, one of my daughters will come in and start reading entries from one of my favorite social media sites, GivesMeHope.com. Three young optimists created this alternate view of life on earth in response to the growing popularity of the negativity-inspired FML.com. With more than 1 million views/month, I’d say they’re doing rather well.
The posted stories are shared by real people who face a wide range of difficulties and overcome them with the hope instilled in them by the people in their lives who love them. Some of the stories are confirmations of the promises that people keep with each other, some are stories of incredible courage in the face of death, some are stories of the kindness of strangers. They remind us of how good people actually are.
The site is also a live demonstration that what you focus on multiplies. Don Quixote said, “Sanity may be madness but the maddest of all is to see life as it is and not as it should be.” Choosing to look for what is right in your life, for the goodness that may be right beside you is all about what we pay attention to. What gives me the most hope of all, is the inherent goodness that lives in all of us.
During some recent travels I shared some stories with my neighbors. One woman in particular has been on my mind ever since. When I shared my story about my son’s recent fall, she nodded with a knowing look and went on to share a terrible run-in with a dog that tore her beautiful little boy’s face in half over the summer. There was no bitterness; just hope in the series of surgeries that are restoring his face. As we continued to talk, she shared the tragic fate of her daughter’s autism immediately following some routine immunizations.
Her descriptions of the years of therapy and sleeplessness that has gone into her daughter’s care and rehabilitation were nothing short of heroic. More incredible still was her deep sense of gratitude and love for her daughter. She said, “I think she and I agreed to this a long time ago, and really she is teaching me way more than I am teaching her.”
Having the spiritual grace to continue to reach for hope is the most courageous act of positivity that we can engage in. I like this idea by Lin Yutang, “Hope is like a road in the country; there was never a road, but when many people walk on it, the road comes into existence.” This is how we build a connection to each other.