Hope for the New Year- it doesn’t have to be a cliche

There’s a lot to be said about purpose. It is true, that purpose promotes happiness and hope within oneself. But maybe you think you don’t have a purpose and that every morning you wake up you wish you hadn’t. Let me speak to you. Because if there is one big misconception in our society today, I think it is the notion that purpose has to have a visible face in the limelight. We think having a purpose means making a big impact by being a public speaker or by being an actor or doctor or <insert profession here>. We think of all of these “public eye, in your face, successful roles”. But the truth of the matter is this- you have purpose no matter who you are.

You could never imagine the positive impact you could have on someone’s day or even life, just by smiling and saying hi to someone. Even if it is the only thing you accomplished all-day and even if you feel depressed and hopeless yourself. Just greeting someone could change your perspective. Many people go through life feeling as if no one cares or that they don’t matter. Think about what great power you hold- that just brightening one persons day could give them the inspiration to keep on going and maybe even save their life. Everyone was created uniquely and no two people have the same purpose. They may have similar interests and goals but they will never achieve them in the same way.

You have a purpose inside of you that is incomparable to anyone else’s. Think of what a void would be left in the world if you were not in it. These are thoughts that I have to speak to myself when I begin to feel hopeless; when I start to think to myself the world would be so much better without me. Trust me when I say I write from experience. Then I think about the good things I would miss if I weren’t here; the people that would miss me. Now think about how much joy YOU bring to peoples lives. Think about that nephew that looks up to you or the coworker that always seeks out your advice. Think about that regular in the coffee shop that smiles at you over her newspaper. These are all people that whether you realize it or not, you positively impact. Some people would never say it, because maybe they are feeling helpless like you. Maybe they are thinking about ending their journey. So what if you greeted those people having the same thoughts you have had? What if just a simple word was all it took to make a difference? So, in an interesting and ironic way, by saving yourself you save them. Isn’t that beautiful? That you in your hopeless state reach out anyway and take someone out of that exact same state?

When I was in the depths of depression, I found my happiest days to be when I served at the local food bank. Now, I will admit it was very hard for me to get there. It was hard for me to wake up and get out of bed and put on my clothes and not feel that irritating sandpaper upon my skin. I didn’t want to go out, I didn’t want people to see me. And most of all I did not want people to ask me how I was doing. I felt awful and looked terrible. More than anything I wanted to hide myself from the world. But I found that the people I served with didn’t really share the same thoughts I felt about myself. They would smile and tell me how glad they were to see me there and we would work together serving the needs of others. That was all I needed. They understood me enough to work alongside me and know that the way my confidence needed to be built was the same way their confidence needed to be built- by helping others. Even though their need was different, we were all being fulfilled the same way. The hard-working hands that were bringing food to hungry mouths and stomachs were the same hands that were going home shaking at night wondering how they were going to wake up the next morning. But together we were strong.

Does this take courage? Did I have to step out of my comfort zone? Most definitely yes. But it is a gradual courage- one that doesn’t hover over you like an overwhelming goal. It is a one-day-at-a-time kind of purpose. The two things I believe can help you move from hopelessness to hopefulness are: find a purpose no matter how small and make a habit of actively reaching out to listen to others. Both of these actions take negative thoughts off of you and give you a reason to wake up and live. Remember to ask yourself, “what if my choosing to live each morning gives someone else a reason to live?” Isn’t that reason enough? You could be a lifesaver. A life-changer. You, that person you condemn in your mind and hate in your heart. Yes you! You hold life. You breathe hope. You can truly live. You can be happy, and you can bring hope to others. My purpose today is to wake up. To smile. To live.

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