Hope is fueled by optimism and the belief that you have the power to make positive changes in your life, says Shane Lopez, Ph.D., author of "Making Hope Happen." When giving others hope, focus on helping them define realistic goals, offering support and being a hopeful person yourself.
Give a person hope by telling her she is loved, as suggested in the National Institute of Mental Health article "10 Ways to Help Someone Who's Depressed" at "Psych Central." Whether she is a best friend, a sister, an aunt or a cousin, hearing from someone close that she is valued and appreciated will give her hope during difficult times -- and help her realize that others are thinking about her well-being.
Deserving of Happiness
Sometimes people lose hope because they mistakenly believe they don't deserve happiness. Everyone comes into the world deserving to be happy -- we see this when looking at the joy experienced by babies and children. Remind the person in your life that no matter how his life has gone, he deserves happiness. In fact, choosing to be happy is less selfish, because it allows him to be more generous and compassionate with others.
Help give a person hope by sharing how you have found success in your own life, writes Paul Huljich, author of the book "Stress Pandemic: The Lifestyle Solution, 9 Natural Steps to Survive, Master Stress and Live Well" in a "Psychology Today" article. Perhaps you have already achieved something that the other person is striving for, such as a happy relationship. Share the secrets of your success.
Along the same lines, share failures in your life to show the other person that the path to success is rarely straightforward. Hopefulness requires being adaptable and changing course when faced with obstacles, according to Lopez. Tell your friend about your difficult break-up or your sister about the time your best friend let you down. Others will feel more hopeful knowing that not everything in life comes easy -- and that obstacles can be overcome.
Change Takes Time
Remind others that positive change takes time, suggests Huljich. Let your girlfriend know that although you are having problems right now, a year from now things could be completely different. Show her that the issues don't need to be solved overnight, but rather that the two of you need to be working together in the same direction. Hope requires sustaining optimism over the long term, rather than giving up too quickly.
Change Is Within Reach
If your best friend is struggling to lose weight, let her know that the change she desires is possible, says Huljich. Sometimes people lose hope because they believe that a situation cannot be improved. Be a positive influence and show her how she can reach her goals, and how others in her position have been successful. Knowing that change is within reach can increase hopefulness and reduce feelings that what a person wants is not possible.
Narrow Down Goals
It is easier to be hopeful when you have a narrow set of goals, says Lopez. If you try to achieve too many goals at the same time, or add additional goals to your already busy list, you set yourself up to fail. Help others be more hopeful by working through the process of narrowing down goals with them. For example, help your boyfriend decide whether to apply to college or enter the workforce directly after school.
People who are excited and passionate about something in their lives are more hopeful, says Lopez. Help others to discover their passions, to instill a sense of hope. If a friend doesn't enjoy math class but blossoms when taking out her art supplies, suggest that she might not want to follow the path of becoming an accountant, as her parents have suggested. People are most hopeful when they are driven by passion.
Be Hopeful Yourself
Help others to be hopeful by exuding hope yourself -- your attitude will be contagious and will rub off on others. Talk in hopeful ways, such as saying things like, "I am really excited about our plans for this weekend," or "I can't wait for summer -- we will have so much fun at my cottage." Be specific, be hopeful and talk about what you are looking forward to. Others will often follow suit.
In the case of a friend who is feeling down, offer resources or help. If a friend is sick, offer to bring homemade soup. If your boyfriend is struggling with algebra, help to find him a tutor. Sometimes a lack of hope can be a downward spiral that is hard to escape. Do the legwork to find resources or support that will give someone the boost to be more hopeful.
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