They say that the eyes are the window to the soul. When our players come off the field following an opponent’s touchdown in a lopsided contest that we are losing, I always look into our player’s eyes. I am looking for hope. Sometimes I see fear and hopelessness. I bet a lot of people look into the eyes of a young person today and see fear and hopelessness. It is sad and discouraging, but it is our job as adults to help these young people replace that fear and hopelessness with hope. It is our mission to mentor their souls to hope. In order to give them hope, our own “Hope Cup” must be overflowing. Here are some strategies that can help fill us and others with hope:

  1. Lose the “Failure Self-Image”. Discipline your mind to let go of the self-image of a failure… a person who feels, “That’s just who I am” when it comes to (name your challenge). Get rid of the image of a person who isn’t good at something and you’ll lay the foundation for excellence. I am slow. I am fat. I am weak. I’m not good enough (to have the goal). I’m not very smart. That’s not me.
  2. Stop Pointing Fingers Elsewhere. You are not a victim. Take responsibility for your own happiness and stop blaming your problems or failures on circumstances or other people. It wasn’t me, I didn’t do it, they did it, it’s not my fault, it’s not my job, it was too hard, I couldn’t help it.
  3. Eliminate the Doubt – No More “I Can’t”. Self doubt is responsible for people procrastinating, never setting a goal, and quitting before succeeding. I can’t do it. I can’t change. There’s nothing I can do. I’m going to fail.
  4. Remove Positive Attraction to Unsupportive Tasks, People & Places. The lure of unsupportive people, places, activities (inactivity, too) that keep you from having hope is strong. You must discipline yourself to steer away from these hopeless people, places, and behaviors. Drugs, alcohol, internet porn, laziness, gluttony, too much TV and or video games.
  5. Remove Negative Feelings about Supportive Tasks, People & Places. Retrain your mind to enjoy more virtuous hope filled activities. Tell yourself they are good for you and then take the medicine. Studying. Reading. Tests. Doing homework. Writing papers. Working out. Cleaning up after yourself. Serving others.
  6. Rise Above Worry: Stop Focusing On What’s Not Perfect/What Could Go Wrong. Stop focusing on fearful thoughts (worry) concerning all things related to your day. This causes procrastination, nagging, arguments, unhappiness, rage, jealousy, and being obsessive. I can’t stop thinking about ____. I’ll bet that they’re talking about me right now. They’ won’t like this. I’m too skinny/fat. The color is off… I have to start all over because its not right.
  7. Stop Feeling Overwhelmed with the Task at Hand. Stop blowing up the “size” and difficulty of the routine, normal tasks and decisions related to reaching your goal, and to “see, hear and feel” them as manageable. This is going to take forever. I’ve got SO much to do. I don’t have enough time. This is too big a job for me.
  8. Handle Mistakes, Setbacks & Delays with Patience and Confidence. Mistakes/setbacks/delays are often unforeseen and cannot always be planned for. Keep them in perspective. This is when you find out what you are made of. How you respond to adversity will predict your future. I can’t make a mistake or I’m done. It’s over. Shaking all over. Panic. Can’t think. Sweating, Fear.

Hope is the food of the soul. A soul without hope will wither and perish. There are a lot of souls walking around us everyday that are starving to death for a lack of hope. Just like the body dies from a lack of nourishment, so a soul is dies when its source of life is gone. That source is hope. Hopes life giving work in the soul is to give it a reason to get out of bed in the morning, to go to work or school, to serve others, to live, and to lay down your life for others.