By Barb Ward

What would it take to make you feel hopeful today? 

Would it be hearing a song that takes you back to a simpler time? Smelling a familiar smell that reminds you of spring? Seeing a picture that brings you back to your youth? Having a conversation with a friend whom you can be yourself around no matter what?

In the busyness of our everyday lives, we may forget that often it’s the simple things that bring us the most joy. Hence, where the saying, “Stop and smell the roses,” came from. It can also be difficult to believe that we deserve hope and joy in the face of the despair shown on the nightly news, but we do deserve joy, and hope is essential if we are to keep our heads up and face our challenges every day.

Trying some of the little things below can help you grow hope:

Focus on random acts of kindness. Showing kindness to others gives back ten-fold in the way it makes you feel inside. What is one thing you can do for someone else today that will make a difference, no matter how small?

Recall a friendship that has endured– through time, distance, careers, kids. Reach out to that friend and reconnect right now!

Surround yourself with people who make you laugh. Laughter releases “feel-good” endorphins, relieves stress, helps build social bonds, improves mental outlook, and protects the heart. What could be better than that?

Believe you can be a positive force for good. If we dedicate resources to a common goal, there’s nothing we can’t do.

Let go of regrets. You can’t change what’s happened in the past, but you can move forward from where you are to build your dream.

Share your time and your life with the people you love. Life is busy. Don’t wait for things to slow down to make time for the people you care about, things will never slow down. Make the time now.

Look at the world with childlike wonder. Taking a new perspective that views the world with innocence and wonder can help you reset your view and your determination to make a change.

Set goals. You can achieve your dreams, but only if you make decisions and take steps that will get you there. Don’t wait, start now!

Don’t rush by the things that make life worthwhile. Take that moment to view the sunrise as you drink your coffee… take a walk in the park… watch the ducks swimming on the pond…

Accept yourself. The only one who can make a positive change in your life is YOU.

Live in the moment. When you focus on the past, or what is coming in the future, you miss out on what is happening right now.

The truth is, the more you practice and engage in these tactics, the more you will see hope grow. Don’t wait. You deserve to feel hopeful and happy. That journey starts now!