How to Stay Hopeful and Resilient in Challenging Times


Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and try to recall a time in your life when you had to face something so insurmountable that you wanted to throw in the towel. Do you remember how you handled the situation? Did you give up or did you push forward irrespective of how daunting the challenges were? How did you feel when you overcame the obstacles? And if you didn’t, how did you feel when you threw in the towel? The fundamental difference between the two outcomes can be attributed to how resilient and hopeful you were when confronted with the challenge(s).

As we all know, things have changed drastically for everyone and adjusting to new and unfamiliar situations takes time and often involves a lot of courage. For some, adjusting means going through all those negative emotions first before coming to terms with reality. Whatever your reaction(s) may be, despair should be the last thing you need when confronting seemingly insurmountable odds.

The Importance of Hope

Hopeful Praying
Mankind would not have survived to this day if we did not have hope in our hearts.

Hope is important because of one simple fact: life is difficult. That’s part of the thrill of being alive, but sometimes it can get us down and make us lose perspective. That’s where hope comes in and allows us to approach problems with a better mindset. A mindset that’s more suitable to the success and happiness we’re seeking.

Scott Barry Kaufman, Ph. D. in cognitive psychology from Yale University defines hope as “a dynamic cognitive motivational system, which means emotions follow cognition, not the other way around.” In other words, hope leads to actions that are conducive to self-improvement and personal growth. When that’s the case, can you doubt you’ll get through anything if you put your mind to it?

Hope makes you want a positive outcome so badly that you work towards it. This is inherent in all of us; we all hope for something and if we allow it, hope will guide us through adversity.

How to Be More Hopeful

1. Change your mindset.

Perspective Mindset
How you perceive things will determine how your life will turn out.

Sometimes the situation is such that it seems impossible to stay hopeful. But remember you are in control of your mindset and you can change it if you need to. It takes practice to master this skill, but it can be done. For example, you can wake up and think your day is going to be sad, boring or unproductive but in doing that you’re setting yourself up to have that exact kind of day. The next time you catch yourself having one of these thoughts, change it! Set goals for your day instead. They don’t have to be big; simple goals will do. The point is training your brain to seek the things that will get you through the rough patch.

2. Find the meaning behind adversities.

A life without hardships is a life destined to remain stagnant.

It’s important to remember than even adversities can have positive effects. It’s not easy to see when you’re in the moment, but you can find meaning if you look for it. Think of all the adversities you’ve already gone through; have they not had a positive effect on you? Have they not helped you become who you are today? Perhaps you’re a stronger person because of them, smarter, more energetic, more grateful… You can turn your darkest hour into triumph simply because you’ve done it before!

3. Look for inspirations around you.

You can find inspirations even in common everyday objects if you just look.

When your strategies are not working as best as they could, taking a moment to get out of your own head will do you good. Listen to other people’s stories and find inspiration in the way they handled or are still dealing with hardship. When you focus and listen deeply to someone else’s story, which doesn’t necessarily have to be similar to yours, you can find hope again.

The Importance of Resilience

Being resilient will make the long road ahead seem that much more within our reach.

Being resilient means to be able to adapt to adversity. It’s the ability to pick yourself up and move forward with newfound drive, motivation and strength. Self-resiliency will develop throughout our lives, but sometimes it will be very difficult to find it within ourselves. We will have moments where we feel like we just can’t (fill in the blank) anymore. But that’s precisely why being resilient is so important.

How to Be More Resilient

1. Don’t be so hard on yourself.

Remember to take time out to smell the roses.

There’s nothing wrong with you being your #1 fan. In fact, you should be! So stop being so hard on yourself. Stop criticizing yourself and chastising yourself in your head. Instead, praise yourself for the things you do right. Praise yourself for your achievements, your virtues, your skills, and your ability to move past adversity. Forgive yourself if you couldn’t handle something, if you’ve made a mistake or if you had a moment of weakness. Forgive yourself and move on! Know that no one’s perfect, we’re all just trying to do our best.

2. Believe in your abilities.

The Power of Believing in Yourself
It takes consistent training to achieve the mental fortitude of non-wavering self-belief.

A huge part of being more resilient is developing positive beliefs in your abilities. If you’re not confident about your skills, you will have trouble coping with adversities. A healthy self-esteem plays an important role not just in facing challenges, but also in recovering from difficult situations. Constantly remind yourself of your strengths, remind yourself that you can accomplish what you set your mind to focus on.

3. Actively seek out solutions to your problems.

Proactive Solutions
Solutions will only present themselves if you seek them out.

It would be great if problems would just go away with the snap of your fingers, but that’s not how life works. In fact, the longer you wait for that to happen, the more draining – and potentially more serious – the problem becomes. Instead, actively seek out solutions. Focus on taking action and making progress. If you feel like you’re not doing enough, ask yourself: what else could I be doing? What are my strengths? How can I solve this or make this better for myself? Be proactive and help yourself; it will make all the difference in the world.

Hopefulness and resilience are tools in your mental toolbox that you can utilize anytime and anywhere but they only work if you reach for them. Start by believing that they exist, that they’re powerful, and that they will help you push through all sort of limitations in your life.