there is the long established gratitude diary. people who write in a gratitude diary usually write about 3 things they are grateful for. this helps them to reframe their life, since they take the time to recognize the often overlooked things they miss or don’t recognize.
gratitudes live primarily in the present or the past. “i am thankful for the blue sky, we have today,” would be an example of a present gratitude. “i am thankful for the gift that i received,” would be an example of a past gratitude. though not as common, future gratitude exists, too, with statements like, “i’m thankful that grandpa is coming to visit.” i see gratitude as a mostly current or looking back convention.
for a book i am working on, i have been exploring hope, what it means and how to express it. i see three primary expressions of hope.
- encouragement: i see encouragement as a work or action that serves to reengage someone’s drive. hope through encouragement comes in the form, “i know you can finish that project of time.” that is a expression of hope, hoping for the timely completion of the project. this is primarily an action of the future.
- acknowledgement: i see an acknowledgement as any statement or action that helps someone feel better about who they are and where they are in the moment. an acknowledgment might be, “i like you were able to put your head down and finish that project.” since acknowledgment are in the moment, they are mainly in the present.
- affirmation: i see affirmation as a positive statement of someone’s qualities , abilities or characteristics. “you do a really good job with your woodworking.” while a statement of the past or present, the recognized quality, ability or characteristic likely isn’t going away anytime soon. “you have a pretty smile”. hopefully the smile isn’t going away and carried into the future.
so hope is from the far end of the time spectrum as compared to gratitude with overlap. i’ve also observed both with myself and others how depression has the ability to rob both hope and gratitude. the struggles with hope and gratitude are not restricted to people facing depression, but more of a societal problem. many people, me included, have a hard time expressing gratitude or feeling hope. without those, people not only miss the good that has happened to them, but also discount the capabilities toward good they possess.
while gratitude gets a set of importance through the many people who do gratitude diaries, hope doesn’t get the same seat at the table. i would say looking forward carries the same importance as looking back. with that in mind, where are all those hope journals?
my challenge to you: if you do a gratitude journal, i honor you. there’s a little more to be done. let your gratitude diaries serve double duty also noting three of your hopes, whether it’s a hope tomorrow, next week or even next year. if you’ve done either, it’s time to look at the good that has come to you and the capabilities toward good that you have. don’t let the emptiness caused by the lack of hope and gratitude cloud what you have did and what you can do.
so, you up to it? are you ready to recognize the hope and gratitude that is in your life? try it, it may make a world of difference.