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Diane Dreher's Tao of Inner Peace Blog

Ripples of Hope to Heal Our World

With today's complex problems, it's easy to feel hopeless, wondering, "What can I do when the problem is so overwhelming?"


Yet the Tao Te Ching tells us that we can make a difference. Because everything is connected, our actions can ripple out to transform the world around us.  The Tao leader prevails "By small actions/Accomplishing great things" (Chapter 63).


Years ago, Bobby Kennedy identified this ripple effect, saying that:


"Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance."

    Robert F. Kennedy, June 6, 1966 (quoted in Lopez, 2013, p. 216)


How can we do this? According to psychologist and hope researcher Shane J. Lopez "To spread hope, you have to get off the sidelines" (2013, p. 217). We have to begin taking action. We can begin creating our own ripples of hope with these three steps:

  1.  Convert wishing into active hope. If you've been thinking, "I wish this situation were different,"  "I wish someone would do something about this," turn that wish into a hope: Ask yourself, "How would I like it to be instead?"
  2. Connect with other people, one or more like-minded friends to create a positive synergy. Brainstorm together to come up with possible steps and solutions. Combine your resources and build your energies to create a positive momentum.
  3. Change the situation by taking one small step to address the problem. Your positive action will increase your hope, improve the situation, and inspire others, leading to more steps, more ripples of hope to heal and transform our world (Lopez, 2013)

As the Tao tells us:


Cultivated in your soul,

The Tao brings peace to your life.

Cultivated in your home,

It brings peace with those you love.

Spreading to friends and neighbors,

It brings peace to your community.

Spreading through your communities,

It brings peace to your nation.

Spreading through the nations,

The Tao brings peace throughout the world.

                                 Tao Te Ching, Chapter 54






Lopez, S. J. (2013). Making hope happen: Create the future you want for yourself and others. New York, NY: Atria Books.

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Finding Hope in the Middle Season

"The Tao leader

Lives fully in every moment"


Tao Te Ching, Chapter 14


Most of us love beginnings and endings, starting new projects and celebrating their completion. But this month, after planting tomatoes, my vegetable garden is in the long middle season. The fruits of summer will come later, and the most abundant harvests only after summer has passed. Now progress is so slow nothing seems to be happening.


Sustaining hope in the middle season can be challenging when we're highly motivated, intent on reaching our goals. But patience with process is essential for maintaining our peace of mind. For we spend most of our lives  in the time known in classical epics as in medias res—in the middle of things—between the excitement of new beginnings and the fulfillment of conclusions. Our projects, careers, and relationships all have long middle seasons. In time, enthusiasm for new projects can diminish, the glamorous new career can become daily routine, and courtship settles down into daily life with the one we love.


If we focus too much on future goals, we can miss the present—the vital gift of this day. At my university, I hear students talk about getting all their required classes "out of the way." But graduating seniors often say they wished they'd spent more time enjoying college because these years went by so quickly.


When you find your mind racing ahead of you, you can cultivate greater patience and hope in the middle season by slowing down, taking a deep breath, and bringing yourself back to the present moment.


  • Are you in the middle season with a project, career, educational process, or relationship?
  • Have you been rushing, impatient, trying to push things?
  • If so, take time to reframe the process: focusing not so much on getting this moment over with as experiencing what it has to offer.
  • Take a deep breath and remind yourself:


 "The Tao leader

Lives fully in every moment."


Then look for the gift in the present moment. Enjoy the process.




An earlier version of this lesson was published in Dreher, D. E. (2002). Inner gardening: A seasonal path to inner peace. New York, NY: HarperCollins Quill.

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