After nearly a decade of connecting with disaster survivors it’s become clear that along side all the tangible support it takes to rebuild lives, homes and communities there are some intangible aspects that are equally important. Infact, there is one that I’d say is almost a crucial precursor to everything else – hope.
According to Wikipedia hope is ‘an optimistic state of mind that is based on an expectation of positive outcomes with respect to events and circumstances in one’s life or the world at large. As a verb, its definitions include: “expect with confidence” and “to cherish a desire with anticipation.”
In regards to disaster recovery, the below quote on hope by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, a global spiritual leader, poet, and peace activist, says it all…
‘Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today.’Thich Nhat Hanh
So how do we create a sense of hope, in ourselves and our communities when we are being challenged on so many levels?
In the 80’s and 90’s an American psychologist named Charles Richard Snyder garnered international fame for his work in positive psychology and in particular his ‘Hope Theory’. He postulated that there are three main things that make up hopeful thinking:
- Goals – Approaching life in a goal-oriented way.
- Pathways – Finding different ways to achieve your goals.
- Agency – Believing that you can instigate change and achieve these goals.
In other words, he suggested that individuals who are able to realize these three components and develop a belief in their ability are hopeful people. People who can establish clear goals, imagine multiple workable pathways forward and persevere on the path, even when obstacles get in their way.
But hope is more than a cognitive process in healthcare. It has long been apart of our world through culture, literature, mythology and religion. And when I was recently reassessing my project for disaster survivors ‘Suddenly Homeless’, I realised what I was really trying to do was to bring a message of hope. Hope that people impacted by disaster can and someday will feel at home in themselves, their life and this world again. Before I knew it, I was undertaking a re-brand and creating new ways to get the message out.
Check out www.herecomeshope.com to learn more.