How To Find Hope When You Feel Hopeless

Light a candle during moments of darkness.

Matt Lillywhite
Dec 4, 2020 · 5 min read
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Photo by Eden Boudreau on Unsplash

Last year, I went through one of the darkest moments of my life.

My mom had been diagnosed with breast cancer. I was completely powerless to do anything to fix the situation. I felt hopeless.

Feelings of anxiety quickly began to increase. And within a matter of weeks, I found myself struggling to fall asleep. I also passed out in the middle of the Calgary public library due to fatigue, stress, and various other things. That obviously wasn’t great.

For a long time, I felt hopeless. I didn’t think a better future was possible. It was as if I hit rock bottom and was unable to stand up due to an enormous weight being forced onto my shoulders. Life sucked.

But one day, I looked in the mirror and said to myself that I had enough. It was time for things to change. So I began implementing several strategies that enabled me to go from hopeless to hopeful.

Here they are:

Practice The Stoic Concept of Amor Fati.

One day, I was sitting in the library wondering what the hell I was going to do with my life. I felt like I tried everything. Yet, for some reason, nothing seemed to work. But after having a nervous breakdown in the library’s philosophy section, I found a book that literally changed my life and mindset forever.

In the Obstacle Is The Way, Ryan Holiday writes about the stoic concept of Amor Fati. In essence, it’s the art of accepting the things you cannot change and trying your best to make the most of whatever circumstances you’ve been given.

“There is no good or bad without us, there is only perception. There is the event itself and the story we tell ourselves about what it means.”― Ryan Holiday

At first, I had no idea how I could turn my circumstances into a positive thing. I felt like my self-worth couldn’t sink any lower. But after thinking about the concept for a few hours, I came up with a few ideas that would enable me to transform my adversity into an incredible opportunity.

I started writing about mental health and strategies that people can use to overcome anxiety. And sure enough, my negative experiences helped to create an extremely positive impact in the lives of many people around the world.

For example, I received an email from a woman in Illinois back in June. She said that she felt suicidal and had severe depression and anxiety. But after reading one of my articles, she felt a tiny bit better. Her problems didn’t disappear overnight. That would be unrealistic. However, she noticed a big enough improvement to ensure that she didn’t do what she planned that day.

A great truth of life is that you cannot choose your current circumstances. However, you can always choose your response to them. So instead of wishing for your life to be different, try to accept the current situation and make the most of it. As Brent Gleeson writes in Forbes:

“The first and best way to begin fighting through any life ambush is to embrace your current reality as opposed to denying it or retreating to the confines of your comfort zone. When life knocks you down hard, find the root cause, own it, and lean in.”

If complaining won’t change the outcome, the only thing you can do is embrace it and love everything that happens.

Amor Fati.

Choose Your Battles Carefully.

Many people have a bad habit of overthinking. They continually spend a lot of time in their head, asking, “what if?” As a result, they rarely do anything to improve their current circumstances. Quoting an article published by Psychology Today:

“If you are overthinking important issues in your life, you can get stuck in indecision, avoidance, and procrastination. A person thinking about their relationships, health, career, self-identity issues, and the like needs to spend time in thoughtful reflection, but too much time in the head can be costly.”

My friend, you have a finite amount of time & energy. Try not to spend them on things that are outside your sphere of influence. Instead, a much better strategy is to focus solely on what you can do each day to get a tiny bit closer to a better life.

Put one foot in front of the other, and you’ll eventually reach your desired destination.

Light A Candle During Moments Of Darkness.

It’ll probably come as no surprise that complaining is terrible for your mental health. As Robert Biswas-Diener writes in Psychology Today:

“One unfortunate downside to both venting and to chronic complaining is that it can dampen people’s moods. In one series of studies, researchers tracked people’s moods before and after hearing a complaint. As predicted, listening to gripes made people feel worse. What’s more, the complainer also felt worse.”

Light a candle during moments of darkness. See the good in everything that happens and try to find hope when there would otherwise be none. As Henry David Thoreau once wrote:

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”

Try to see every obstacle as a chance to improve your life and become a better person. For example, if you’re currently in lockdown with your family, use this moment as an opportunity to strengthen your relationship with each other.

If you can make a little bit of progress towards a better mindset each day, the power of compound interest will enable you to create a much better perspective on life over time.

Practice the stoic concept of Amor Fati. Choose your battles carefully. Light a candle during moments of darkness.

My past self felt incredibly hopeless. I had no idea how to improve my circumstances or mindset for the better. But once I implemented the above strategies, everything changed.

And if you apply them to your own life, I’m sure they’ll enable you to go from hopeless to hopeful, as well. So what are you waiting for?

Start now.

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Matt Lillywhite

Written by

Live Your Life On Purpose

Get Purpose. Get Perspective. Get Passion.

Matt Lillywhite

Written by

Live Your Life On Purpose

Get Purpose. Get Perspective. Get Passion.

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