Creating Memories of the future- A journey of Hope

At the time of writing this blog, 2019 has just started and I have begun a new journal outlying all my goals for the year ready to create lots of new memories.

We all carry memories from past events, hopefully many of those are happy ones we can look back on with some joy and satisfaction. In a TED talk by Shane Lopez he talks about how we are in 3 states of being; past, present, and future and these states determine who we are. Our past achievements show what we can do, our present state is who we are right now, and our future state offers the potential of who we may become. However, when we apply to a school a college or a job, we are judged solely on our past. Did we get the right grades at school? Have we performed well in our previous job? Of course, we don’t yet have the ability to see into the future so its understandable that we are judged on our past endeavours as this is all anyone has to go on. But just how much does this define who we really are, and how helpful is this to us when moving forward?

Creating a memory of the future

What happens when we take our past memories, mix them with who we are now and carry those in to the future to create new memories? By doing this we are experiencing hope. Hope is a place we create for ourselves which is better than the place we are right now or have been before. Hope is the emotion that carries us through difficult and troubled times, and yet it is often one of the most understated and least understood. With hope we can achieve anything, it just depends on how high our level of hope is. There is a direct relationship between our hope and our achievements.

How does hope work?

Try sitting for a moment and not do anything. Unless you are skilled at meditation its unlikely that you will sit and not think of anything. You may sit and think about a past event, but it’s more likely you will think of an event in the future. It may be thinking about what you are having for lunch, or a piece of work that needs to be done, or maybe a happy event you are looking forward to. As far as we know this is something unique to a human, we re the only species we are aware of that constantly thinks in the future. This is because we have evolved to think in a predictive way and as such those thoughts are causal. What we think creates our reality. If we can use those thoughts in a positive way, then we create hope. The lunch you will have will be tasty, the piece of work a masterpiece and the happy event full of joy and laughter.

The 3 elements of hope

According to Snyder’s theory, hope has three distinct elements; a goal, a pathway, and willpower. Once you have established a goal, how are you going to reach it and how badly do you want it? If it is a goal that you desire greatly then often multiple pathways will need to be found. How many times in life have you suffered a setback in something you have wanted to achieve? By trying again, often by a different route, is where the willpower comes in.

It will all come right in the end

A great line from a film when questioned “What if it doesn’t come right in the end” elicited the reply “Then it isn’t the end yet”. That’s the great thing about hope, it doesn’t matter what setbacks you have as long as you have hope you have a purpose. Reaching a goal is less about how easy or hard it is to attain but more about how much you desire that goal and how long you are prepared to wait to finally achieve it. If something is worth having, then its worth waiting for. Think back to all the great things you have achieved and think about the original goal and what you had to do to achieve it. Did it work first time, or did you have setbacks?

Nurturing Hope

As a simple exercise, write down 3 goals that you would like to achieve this year, then look closely at how you will achieve these goals. Is there just one pathway to this goal or are there many routes you can take. Then finally ask yourself just how much you want to achieve these goals, or put another way just how strong is your hope?

I hope all of you who are reading this achieve what you have hoped for.

Micro Moments of Love

In her book Love 2.0, Barbara Fredrickson (Fredrickson, 2013) claims we can experience micro-moments of love numerous times a day, even with complete strangers. She goes on to say that any moment of connection with another person gives the same pleasure as felt when experiencing love.

I had to try this out, so one Saturday last March I decided to experience micro-moments of love and find out if Barbara Fredrickson was on to something.

The day started with breakfast with my housemate. For various reasons we hadn’t seen each other for a while so had some catching up to do. After a bowl of cereal and a cup of tea we had a big hug and off to start my day.

I had arranged a study morning with 2 fellow students. As we were all studying similar topics, the idea of sharing micro moments of love created some interesting debate. We all agreed the notion was worth pursuing further. We all gave each other a hug and on to the next encounter.

It wasn’t yet lunchtime and already I had gotten 3 hugs. I have read a lot of research about hugging and apparently the general consensus appears to be that we need a minimum of 8 a day to feel at our best. I now had a mission within a mission to achieve these 8 hugs.

I got back home and the painter was there finishing off a few jobs. I offered him a cup of tea and we had a good chat. I thought about giving him a hug but he was a six foot builder with lots of tattoos and so if I’m completely honest, I bottled it.

Even so it was only just gone midday and the score stood at:-

Micro moments of love 4, Hugs 3

I had arranged to meet a friend for lunch, so I hopped on the bus and I had my next encounter. A lady who I recognized from somewhere got on and looked straight at me. It then dawned on me how I knew her, I buy the Big Issue from her once a week but I’ve never really spoken to her. By the time she got off the bus we had quite a chat and I learned her name.

The bus company had recently changed the route and so instead of the bus turning left to my stop it carried straight on. I jumped up and rung the bell frantically. It appears I wasn’t the only one, as another lady did the same thing simultaneously. “I forgot they changed the route” I said to her” Yes I did too” she said with a big smile. I’m definitely counting that as one of those micro moments of love with a complete stranger that Barbara Fredrickson talks about.

Lunch with my friend went very well and even included an extra micro moment of love with the lady on the next table when we discussed the cuteness of her dog. A big hug with my friend and back home for my next encounters.

By teatime I was at :-

Micro moments of love 8

Hugs 4

Before going out I had 2 phone calls with my kids adding another 2 micro moments of love.

I met a group of friends in a bar prior to going to watch a band. There were 3 friends which meant 3 micro moments of love and 3 hugs. I was now only 1 hug short of the 8 I needed.

The great thing about being on the dance floor is that you meet some very happy friendly people. One of my friends asked me to dance and we went through our modern jive routine which seemed to attract some attention. A guy next to me gave me a high five, and then a lady came over and gave me a huge compliment on my dancing. Without thinking I said thank you and gave her a hug. My eighth of the day! I could imagine fireworks going off and champagne corks popping as I had reached this moment.

So, what did I learn from this day?

It really doesn’t take much to have feel good moments. I hadn’t done anything differently than I would have had I not been investigating micro moments of love and yet just by being aware, transformed my day completely. I worked out I had a total of 15 micro moments and 8 hugs and I felt wonderful.

For me, a day like this illustrates what Positive Psychology is really all about. It’s not making a big discovery that will change your life, but it’s about experiencing every day events and enjoying those experiences, whether with friends, family, or complete strangers. Every encounter is an opportunity and the way we approach those opportunities makes all the difference between how we feel within ourselves.

Reference: Fredrickson, B. (2013). Love 2.0: How our supreme emotion affects everything we feel, think, do, and become: Avery.