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“Hope is a function of struggle.  When we don’t expose our children to struggle, when we don’t allow them to find their way out, when we don’t allow them to know failure, when we don’t allow them to know disappointment, we tear at their hopefulness.”  Brené Brown

I have listened to this fabulous and beloved audiobook countless times and never has the section on hope stood out to me so much.  I love Brené’s references to C.R. Snyder and how he breaks hope into three pieces:

1.  Goals

2.  Pathways

3.  Agency 

Brené states “Hopefulness is about the ability to set a goal, to find innovative and creative ways of getting there (which he calls pathways), and then to have agency and agency is simply the belief that we can do it.  To have agency means ‘I can do this.’  So hope is a way of thinking about obstacles, setting goals, believing we can get there, and really being able to come up with alternative routes when things don’t go well.  In other words…hope is the ability to Plan B something.”  

“Hope is not an emotion.  Hope is a cognitive process.  It’s a way of thinking about ourselves and the world and the more I’ve learned about this process the more I am absolutely certain that that’s what the wholehearted mean and women have in common.”

I believe that helping your children to cultivate hope is so tightly linked to the language that we use.  I hope I can make a more conscious effort to think of synonyms and other words that bring hope when things are hard.  I hope I can validate my daughter’s struggles even when it’s easier to avoid or brush it off because it seems small.  I love Brené’s story about her daughter and the swim meet and this simple but powerful exchange:

Ellen:  That was horrible

Brenè:  That was really hard but I’m proud of you.

Ellen:  I’m proud of me too because that was horrible but it was brave.

I love the stories Brené tells about herself and her family.

One of my strongest beliefs in this world is that hope is always available to us.  It is so much more than an emotion and it is always an option.  So many times in life we worry, grieve, etc, only to look back later (or sooner than later) once the situation has changed and regret the negative emotions we wasted so much time on.  The teenager who cries for days over a breakup only to get back together with her boyfriend soon after, the time spend worrying about a possible event that never occurs…we can all benefit from cultivating hope every day.  Just like any other skill, cultivating hope requires daily practice and conscious effort until it becomes a habit.  

I love this audiobook so much and I think this section on hope (and the one after) are my new favorite parts!  Even though I am passionate about living a life filled with hope, I learned so much about how to parent with this important guidepost of wholeheartedness!!