With each new year comes the opportunity to make ‘New Year’s Resolutions’ and Reconciliations.
Of course, for many of us, these plans often fail and, hopes dashed, we are back to the proverbial drawing board. How frustrating!
But WHY do we fail?
Dreams, Wishes, and Having Hope
I think that, more than in any other area of our lives, we are often neglectful or even oblivious to our dreams and wishes.
In addition, we are often in a chronic state of loss of hope without even knowing it.
All we do know is that we might feel ‘bored’ or ’empty’ or ‘tired’, or even irritable, anxious, or depressed. Out of sorts. Not settled.
If you were to ask someone today how they might define hope, what sort of answer do you think you’d get?
I believe that without hope, our dreams and our wishes have no chance of coming to our conscious awareness, much less to fruition.
And two of the earliest casualties of lost hope are the loss of our wishes and our dreams.
Humans are Romantic Animals
Like it or not, we humans are not only ‘social animals’, we are also Romantic Animals in the broadest sense.
By this I mean that we need hope to survive and we need our dreams and wishes in order to thrive.
You can have all the money in the world.
You can have the blessings of good health, community, and family.
You can have great traditions as well as a mind open to change.
BUT, in my estimation you have nothing without your dreams and wishes.
And you have even less without hope.
When I use the word ‘faith’ in my office, people often quickly jump to religious conclusions.
I happen to be Catholic, but the use of the word ‘faith’ in the sense I mean right now is a more general faith in our lives.
Do you have this kind of faith?
When life brings you challenges, do you have a sense of faith that you’ll get through them?
When things don’t turn out your way, do you have faith that you’ll learn something by the way they DID turn out? About the situation? About yourself?
Do you have faith in your fellow humans on some level or another?
With loss of faith there is loss of hope and you already know where that leads.
Back to Those Pesky Resolutions
I believe that part of the reason why we humans tend to fail in our resolutions and in our attempts at reconciliation in our lives and in our relationships is that we do not have a firm foundation of: 1) faith in our lives, 2) hope for the future and for future generations, and, 3) the wishes and dreams that come forth from those two things.
Instead, we tend to take our moments of relative unhappiness or misery and suddenly decide to Change Things or that ‘Things Must Change’.
And what we often get as an end result is a chronic cycle of momentary acknowledgement of unhappiness, followed by momentary commitment to change, followed lastly by loss of momentum and ultimate stasis and discouragement.
Work on Hope and the Rest Will Follow
Look, we’re all mortal beings.
Our lives, as far as I know, have beginnings, middles, and ends.
Knowing this, we must adjust our expectations and our understanding of what life is and what it is not.
Life is NOT designed to be a series of major epiphanies, followed by superficial resolutions accompanied eventually by ultimate failure and frustration. This only faithfully reproduces the search for the next Big Thing and the continuation of the cycle ad infinitum.
Great for talk shows, but not so much for our real lives.
Life IS, in part, made up of a defined amount of time on Earth during which we can cultivate a sense of gratitude and hope in our everyday lives.
Hope is what produces proper behavior with our spouses and children.
Hope is what clears our minds for engagement in the work we are drawn to do in the world.
Hope is what fuels the bonds of friendship and community.
Without hope there is chronic fear, anxiety, and despair.
The Rest is Up to You
So go home today and be thankful and hopeful.
Say one positive thing to your spouse. Let them feel that you cherish them.
Listen to your children speak their concerns to you. Focus on them.
Then, I guarantee you that your resolutions and reconciliations will take care of themselves, every day, not just on New Year’s Day.
In faith and hope,
Anthony Ferraioli, M.D.
Author, DON’T GET MARRIED! (UNLESS YOU UNDERSTAND A FEW THINGS FIRST)