A message from our Executive Director on Mental Health Awareness Day 10/10/2018. How do we define HOPE?


How do we define hope?

It’s a difficult word to define, isn’t it? You know what it is. You have felt it, asked for it, and maybe been inspired by it — and yet how do you adequately put its meaning into words?

This thought comes to my mind, over the years, as one of the goals of the LRJ Foundation is to bring people a message of hope. We display it through the love of our work, the education of our presentations, the lives we touch, and the passion that pours out of each devoted member of the LRJ team.

But if I were to ask you to write a definition of hope down on a piece of paper, you might tap your pencil a few times on your notepad with a puzzled look on your face. Hope looks different for different people, and that’s why I think it’s hard to put it into words without lots of pondering. Hope isn’t tangible. It’s not something that you can touch. It’s something you feel deep inside your heart and soul.

The Merriam-Webster’s definition of “hope” is as follows: to cherish a desire with anticipation : to want something to happen or be true. In other words, to anticipate and expect.

Personally, I don’t feel that truly demonstrates the power of the word. I don’t think it does the word justice. Hope is so much bigger than that. For me, hope can be what we hold onto when we feel that we have nothing else left to rely on. Moreover, hope could be someone’s saving grace. Hope is powerful, influential, and meaningful to so many people.

I stumbled across the following quote by Desmond Tutu: “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.”

Now this speaks to me so much more than a mere desire for something to occur. The light is the positive energy one is longing for to remove the darkness.

The traditional or simplistic definition is that we must expect something, or anticipate something to happen. Unfortunately, that can bring disappointment, and even a sense of failure of what we hope for. Let us be honest and admit that sometimes it’s fearful to rely on and live up to expectations, because there are no guarantees in life.

Hope has more power than that, but it requires positive energy. Hope is the possibility that your dreams and desires will come to fruition, but you must be proactive by taking action, exhibiting persistence, hard work, and thoughts of consistent optimism. If this is done, your struggles can decrease, and the heavy burden of anxiety can be lifted off of your shoulders.

Hope can provide an overwhelming sense of peace, harmony, and joy. For example, whenever I put a positive thought into my mind, I open the possibility to see light through anything, through darkness, even if I fail — I give it my best effort and allow nature to take its course.

On the other hand, hope can also create a false sense of security and confidence if we don’t back it up with optimism and a strong, concerted effort. Furthermore, we shouldn’t throw around the word so loosely with expectations of what we want to see happen. We must accept the fact that nothing in life is 100% certain.

Is it fair? No.

Is it part of life? Yes.

Should we therefore give up hope and our best effort? Absolutely not! We should never conclude all hope is lost for history shows us that life is full of unexpected surprises, especially when diligence is applied.

Sometimes it seems impossible to find hope in the midst of darkness. How do we find hope in longing for a lost loved one, for example?

Be hopeful that positive affirmations can change the mindset, making it possible. It’s never easy. Make the best of what you’re given in life.

Professor Randy Pausch, who was diagnosed with terminal cancer, said before his demise, “We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the game.”

We are all hopeful for many things, but don’t expect hope to come through without giving hope the chance to meet you halfway.

When asked about achieving your dreams, Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, said the following in an interview: “In order to achieve your dreams, I think that you need a combination of stubbornness and flexibility. Basically, you need to be stubborn on your vision, because if you’re not, then it will be too easy to lose HOPE and give up. However, you need to be very flexible on the details, because, as you go along pursuing your vision, you’ll find that some of your preconceptions were wrong, and you’re going to need to be able to change those things.” I find the words of Mr. Bezos to be powerful and on point!

The next time you ask for hope, or are hopeful you get the result you are desiring, please remember that sometimes the things we want in life take both patience and time. I believe that gifts arrive in our lives when we are prepared to receive them.

Sometimes the process is fast, but many times, it’s a long, arduous process. Remember, however, that the longer the journey, the sweeter the victory.

My hope is that you achieve your dreams and help make the world a better place. I also hope that you always find the light at the end of the tunnel during the darkest of days.

I hope to make a difference in the world. I hope to continue to honor my brother who I miss every single day. I hope that I can win over the hearts and minds of as many people as possible and be the best example to my three daughters. I hope that when I get tested and face adversity, I fight onward with integrity and an indomitable spirit.

Thank you so much for giving me this opportunity. I’d like to also thank you for supporting the LRJ Foundation. It’s become my reason why.

I’ll leave you with this by Albert Einstein: “Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.” #BetterThanYesterday

Today is Mental health awareness day, I HOPE this gives you a reason to smile today. 😉

Teressa Stann
Executive Director  ,LRJ Foundation-

Mental Wellness & Suicide Prevention Educational Programming

You can reach me at LRJFoundation@Live.com
HOPE live at LRJFoundation.com