Reality Check: Stories of Hope

In a parking lot the other day, I was approached by a young woman we’ll call Libby. I’d known her years ago, and it was a delight to see her and catch up.
Her story was brimming with positives. A new child, a stable job working with people she likes, a good home situation, activities that keep her and her children engaged and looking forward to the future. Refreshing, eh?
We hear so many stories of despair. I’m sure you know them well.
There are hard times everywhere. Lack of work. Lack of workers. Poor housing. Disruptive children. Relationships filled with strife. Not to mention the crimes, the drugs, the scammers… And those are just the small-scale stories!
There’s also the big events—war, disease, heat, cold, storms, fires, food disruptions, information disruptions. The bad news goes on and on. It can be easy to forget that any good is happening anywhere!
Libby’s story has an impact. She’s an example of the many young people who live the values that help to make society function. They work. They go to school. They even have babies, which is not a small contribution!
It’s often said that we don’t know what’s truly going on in someone else’s life. If you were to meet Libby now, you would have no reason to suspect that she has not always been a vibrant, positive contributor to society. Whether someone is at a high point in their life, or at a low, we seldom see the whole picture at any point in time.
We could be tempted to say, “That’s easy for Libby.” However, Libby’s earlier life has included her share of difficult times and events. Her outlook has not always been so positive. How does that change? Are there aspects to Libby’s story that we can use as encouragement for others?
I suspect that a number of factors have contributed to Libby’s positive outcome. Among them are Libby’s own determination and willingness to take on a difficult job, to show up every day and work. Persistence and willingness matter.
Another factor is Libby’s choices of non-work activities. She is now focused on actions that will contribute to a good life for her children; a focus on the present with hope for the future, rather than reliving mistakes of the past.
Finally, encouragement from other people helps. Having just one genuinely supportive person in your life can make a big difference. When we are so fortunate as to have that person in our lives, it helps to remember that and to appreciate them.
We know that every difficult story doesn’t end in sweetness and joy. Often, we don’t have much control. We can make our best efforts, but we don’t get a guarantee. However, we can be reasonably certain that if we don’t make efforts, the likelihood of a positive outcome is lower than if we do. Effort, work, persistence, and yes—looking to the future with hope—it all helps.
If we concentrate primarily on fears, potential disasters, wrong-doing, and so on, it can be difficult to muster the spirit and fortitude that it takes to pursue a hopeful future. The influences, and the stories, that we choose to allow into our lives matter.
Thus, it’s helpful to pay attention to stories of success—real-life examples like Libby’s. They remind us that change, complete with positive outcomes, is possible.
Have you heard any encouraging stories lately?

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