It is ironic that Christmas is a season of hope, but may bring despair to some people.
Until recently (2006), a psychologist by the name of Anthony Scioli, proposed an integrated theory of hope. Whereas depression causes a weakened immune system, hope brings stronger immune systems, according to medical journals. Hope may be our strongest emotion. When a disaster strikes, we all look for hope. It determines our survival. Christmas for devastated families will not be the same if they have lost hope. It is hope that gives us strength through adversity. Incidentally, in counseling, it is the only thing we can encourage our clients to have. Hope is strengthened by our capacities to decide, it is the primary source of empowerment.
Depression is generally a weakening of hope’s strength. We must remember that hope is always a choice we can take. It was Winston Churchill who said, “The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” We are accountable for our own happiness and despair, whatever conflicts or problems arise. Although optimism doesn’t necessarily bring about hope, it brings us closer to experiencing genuine hope.
The darkness of hopelessness arrives when there is no escape from the intolerable (Scioli, 2006). We should practice veering away from the dark side and moving into the light. To be an optimist is to focus on the positive side of life, despite the cool and dark season, and even beyond our personal adversities. It is a belief common to resilient people who have triumphed against the odds. But HOPE is beyond optimism. It is a universal emotion that affects both our thoughts and actions. It is rooted in trust and positive experiences from the past. We should nurture it to ensure not only our sanity, but more so, our survival.
No one can take away our hopes and fears but ourselves.
“The road that is built in hope is more pleasant to the traveler than the road built in despair, even though they both lead to the same destination.” – Marion Zimmer Bradley
this is an edited version of part 2 of the article on SAD..