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Diane Dreher's Tao of Inner Peace Blog

Overcoming Hope Challenges

When you face challenges and disappointments as many of us are these days, these five steps from the Hopeful Mindsets Project can help you see beyond the darkness and bring the light of hope to your life (iFred, 2021).Together, these 5 steps spell SHINE.


The S in Shine stands for Stress Skills. When we feel stressed by our challenges, we can pause for 90 seconds, take slow deep mindful breaths, connect with nature, or confide in a friend. These skills will bring us back to center and help renew our hope.


The H in Shine stands for Happiness Habits. We can keep our hope alive by doing things that make us healthy and happy, like exercising, eating healthy food, listening to our favorite music, and spending time with friends.


The I in Shine stands for Inspired Action. This means setting goals that bring greater joy and meaning to our lives and making a plan to reach, finding alternatives if one of our steps is blocked, and moving forward one step at a time.


The N in Shine stands for our Hope Network, our supportive team of people who care about us, who encourage and support us. We can build our hope by connecting with people on our hope team often.


The E in Shine stands for Eliminating Challenges to Hope—these are external challenges like setbacks and  disappointments as well as internal challenges like old limiting beliefs about ourselves, worry, rumination, and focusing on what we can't control instead of recognizing what we can.


If you've been feeling blocked and disappointed in an important area of your life, you can overcome this hope challenge by recognizing it as a shadow on the path. You can find the light of hope by first using your stress skills, pausing for 90 seconds, taking slow deep breaths. Then reconnect with your happiness habits—spending time in nature, listening to your favorite music, and seeking support from your hope network. When you connect with the light, you'll find expansive new possibilities where you had never seen them before, moving forward in the light of inspired action.


Instead of getting stuck in darkness and disappointment, you can use your hope skills to shine the light on new possibilities. In 2008 when Barack Obama lost the New Hampshire primary, instead of giving up, he drew upon his hope skills, giving his memorable "Yes We Can" speech, energizing himself, inspiring his followers, and going on to win the presidency.


With renewed hope we, too, can see beyond the darkness to the light, moving forward in life with new energy and inspiration. Yes We Can.


I wish you joy in the days ahead and renewed hope to light your way.




International Foundation for Research and Education on Depression (iFred). (2021). The Hopeful Mindsets Project. https://hopefulmindsets.com/


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Cultivating Your Hope Network

The ancient wisdom of the Tao Te Ching tells us that:


The Tao leader creates harmony

Reaching from the heart

To build community.

     (Tao, chapter 49)


Today we need community more than ever to restore our hope. In the midst of the COVID pandemic, research reveals alarming rates of depression and anxiety worldwide (Nochaiwong, Ruengorn, Thavorn, et al., 2021). In America, 84% of adults have been experiencing prolonged stress and 40% have had symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder (American Psychiatric Association, 2021; Panchal, Kamal, Cox, & Garfield, 2021).


Research has shown that we need a sense of community to live healthy lives (Fredrickson, 2013; Seligman, 2011; Umberson &Montez, 2010). The Hopeful Mindsets project has found that building a Hope Network is one of the five keys to restoring our hope (iFred, 2021).


Do you have a Hope Network--a supportive team of people who care about you?  Not just anyone but people you can trust and confide in, who offer encouragement and support, who make you feel better when you're around them.


Who's on your hope team? Your best friend? A wise mentor? A trusted family member? A supportive teacher, doctor, therapist, faith leader, counselor, or coach? As you cultivate your hope network, become more aware of  the quality of your connections. Someone who makes you feel inferior or drains your energy can only be an acquaintance, not someone for your hope network. Cultivate your hope network intentionally,strengthening your current connections and building new ones with these five steps inspired by the Hopeful Mindsets Project (iFred, 2021).


1.      Listen with empathy to the people around you. Often, the best gift you can give someone is simply letting them know they've been seen and heard. Ask how they feel, then take a deep breath and just listen, reflecting back what you've heard.

2.      Practice Openness. Take your relationship deeper than simply talking about the weather, sports, or the latest news. Begin sharing your feelings, goals, and challenges as you listen to theirs.

3.      Forgive yourself and others. We all make mistakes. When you think of a past mistake, give yourself self-compassion, realizing it's only human to make mistakes and forgive yourself (Neff, 2011). If you've been harboring feelings of hurt, anger, or resentment toward someone, consider one thing you've learned from this experience. This may mean standing up for yourself and setting better boundaries  (Neff, 2021). Give yourself self-compassion, then release the negative feelings, and move on.

4.      Express appreciation with the 5:1 rule.  Consciously look for the good in the people around you and point it out, giving five positive comments for every critical one.

5.      Perform simple acts of kindness not only with friends and family but also when you're out doing errands. Hold the door open for a person carrying packages or let someone with only a few grocery items go ahead of you in line. Challenge yourself to perform at least one act of kindness each day.


Now think of one step you can take to cultivate your hope network—can you listen, be more open,  forgive yourself and others, express appreciation, or perform an act of kindness? As you take that step, feel a warm sense of connection and community as you bring greater hope to your life and the world.


I wish you joy on the path.




American Psychiatric Association. (2021, February 2). U.S. adults report highest stress level since early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2021/02/adults-stress-pandemic


Fredrickson, B. (2013). Love 2.0: How our supreme emotion affects everything we feel, think, do, and become. New York, NY: Hudson Street Press.


International Foundation for Research and Education on Depression (iFred). (2021). The Hopeful Mindsets Project. https://hopefulmindsets.com/


Neff, K. (2011). Self-compassion: Stop beating yourself up and leave insecurity behind. New York, NY: William Morrow.


Neff, K. (2021). Fierce self-compassion: How women can harness kindness to speak up, claim their power, and thrive. New York, NY: Harper Wave.


Nochaiwong, S., Ruengorn, C., Thavorn, K. et al. (2021). Global prevalence of mental health issues among the general population during the coronavirus disease-2019 pandemic: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Scientific Reports, 11, 10173. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-89700-8


Panchal, N., Kamal, R., Cox, C. & Garfield, R. (2021, Feb 10). The implications of COVID-19 for mental health and substance use. Kaiser Family Foundation. https://www.kff.org/coronavirus-covid-19/issue-brief/the-implications-of-covid-19-for-mental-health-and-substance-use/


Seligman, M.E.P. (2011). Flourish. New York, NY: Free Press.


Umberson, D., Montez, J. K. (2010).Social relationships and health: A flashpoint for health policy. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 51(1), S54 - S66.


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