Zen Pop: Hope Matters

Periodically on Poetry Pop, you will see a Zen Pop blog post. These posts are my way of sharing on a personal level and giving you a bit of poetic encouragement while traversing this beautiful (and often challenging) thing we call life.

Photo curtesy of Namrata Shah

Unfortunately, tragedy, heartache, and hurt visits us all from time to time. When life goes dark, it’s hard to imagine that a light might be around the corner. Sometimes all we can do is hope things will get better. 

I have a hard time with the concept of hope.  I want to jump in and fix things and when something happens that is beyond my control, just “hoping” feels passive, stagnant. But while we are hoping we are actually doing something very important for our mental health, happiness, and wellbeing.

Martin Seligman, founder of Positive Psychology, conducted scientific research for 20 years on the subject and says hope reduces the feeling of helplessness, gives us courage, boosts happiness, and reduces stress. 

People who have the ability to stand on hope during rough times and believe they can overcome challenges are practicing essential life skills.  I continue to work on this myself and I challenge my readers to do the same.

Spiritual leader, poet, and peace activist, Thich Nhat Hahn said, “Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear.  If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today.”

I’ve chosen Emily Dickinson‘s poem, “Hope” is the Thing with Feathers, to share with you today. For Emily, hope becomes a singing bird. She reminds us that hope doesn’t speak to us in words, rather, hope is a feeling we get inside that cheers us up and cheers us on through the storms of life. 

“Hope” is the Thing with Feathers
“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –
And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –
I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.
—Emily Dickinson

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