Hope And Mindfulness

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Most everyone thinks of hope in a positive light, as something to nurture and cultivate, but the shadow side of this positive state of being that has helped many people persevere through difficult times is that we’re pulled out of the present moment, instead focusing our attention, our thoughts and feelings, on some set of variables that have not yet come to pass and maybe never will.

Whether the hoped for future materializes or not, the present suffers as we somewhat miss out on experiencing and enjoying the wonders of life available to us right this moment. We unconsciously discount the present, we compare it unfavorably to the hoped for future, and only give the present our partial attention or effort.

Of course we all know that when we’re mired in unwanted negative states like self-pity or depression we miss out on the present moment but our point here is that the same can be said when we’re anchored in hope.

The remedy therefore from the existential mindfulness perspective is not to eradicate hope since it obviously has a lot of desirable properties and can be the impetus for productive, growth oriented behavior as we construct the futures we want for ourselves. The remedy is to make sure we consciously ground ourselves in the present as we look forward to the future with hope. We don’t let ourselves get lost in the fantasy, we don’t let ourselves downplay what’s going on around us, but commit ourselves to the cultivation of gratitude and mindfulness in daily life so that we can experience life fully instead of placing it on the back burner. When we put gratitude and mindfulness front and center we become truly happy right now, which is really what’s at the bottom of all hope in the first place. Hope is the desire to be happy. With the application of mindfulness happiness is available right now which makes hope secondary rather than primary, an important consideration but not the central sustaining force of life.