I reserve the right to remain hopeful.
6 days in to a new government, and 3 weeks past the election, I’m declaring it, as though it’s a constitutional right, a mantra and a magic spell all rolled up into one.
I felt hope crest like a rogue wave the morning after the election, and it surged again, when I heard tales of a friend who works in Ottawa on the Hill, who was greeted with a small plastic cup of champagne at work that Brand New Day. She thanked her manager, but was told, “don’t thank me,” as her boss acknowledged their Muslim colleague, a quiet woman, not imbibing, who had stopped at the liquor store that morning, to share her own sparkling sense of hope with her workmates about their shared future under a new regime.
The communications strategist in me gives a nod to a game well-played at the new government’s opening gambits (Inuit throat singers at the swearing-in ceremony!, Cabinet media scrums! a Google Hang-out between the Prime Minister and some grade 5 students!), but it’s my feisty little inner hope-fiend that has really rallied as the new PM states that gender parity is important “because it’s 2015”, and swears in a Cabinet featuring a Minister of Climate Change, a Minister of Refugees, a Minister of Science (who is an actual scientist!), a Minister of Health (a doctor), a Minister of Agriculture (a farmer), a Minister of Transport (an astronaut, for the win!), a Minister of Defence (an Afghanistan combat veteran), a Minister of Families who is a poverty economist and a Minister of Democratic Institutions who is a Muslim refugee. Bonus points for the fact the PM was once a snowboard instructor at Whistler Blackcomb, and although this is not my party, well, the Hope-o-Meter is steadfastly sitting in the green zone.
I am embarrassed to admit it – have I just been seduced by good hair and great soundbytes? – but, to admit that politics is, for the first time in a decade, inspiring positivity, interest, engagement, instead of cynicism, disdain, disappointment, vigilant scrutiny, makes me feel vulnerable. Gullible, even. I’m scared to confess to this hopefulness, to allow it, because it hurts to be disappointed, to have your heart broken, your expectations dashed, to find out that one politician or party is just the same as all the others, that hype comes from a machine, and the system is so flawed that no one can make a difference.
But for now, I reserve the right to remain hopeful. Not because hope is a warm and fuzzy feeling, and right now, the nights are long and the days are drizzly. No, I’m indulging in hope because it is, outside of outrage, (which is just as hard to sustain), an absolute necessity to getting things done.
That’s what I discovered reading a blog post on time management by Wendy Kelly, a scribe for Pemberton-based web design and digital marketing agency, Custom Fit Communications.
Forget list-making, bed-making and getting up at the crack of seriously-it’s-pitch-black-out-there, the best and most under-reported productivity hack is simply having a robust sense of hope.
“At the end of the day, without hope,” wrote Kelly, “you really can’t keep up your pace. Workers of all types need hope to get up each day and do their work, and I would argue that creative types need hope all the more.”
Margaret Atwood, the dire futurist of our times, seems to agree. She recently told Canadaland’s Jesse Brown, “Unless you’re an optimist, you don’t bother writing books. It’s a very optimistic thing to do.”
Optimism isn’t the same thing as hopefulness, though. Optimism is the belief that all-will-be-well. Hope is the ability to fly in the face of evidence to the contrary, to strive for excellence in the face of obstacles. Hope has been correlated with better pain tolerance, workplace attendance, engagement and creativity.
Brene Brown, a shame and vulnerability researcher and author of Daring Greatly, explains that we have poetic but misguided notions of the word hope. “Most of us think of hope as a feeling of positivity. But hope is not an emotion at all. It’s how we think and it is 100% teachable. Hope is a function of struggle. The 2 prerequisites for high levels of hopefulness are perseverance and tenacity.”
It’s not pathetic to be hopeful. It’s pragmatic.
If we care about climate change, democracy, missing and murdered women, beating cancer, raising great kids, living in kind communities, we need to all struggle for that together.
So I’m holding on to this surging sense of hope for as long as I can.
And for all you lovelies out there squaring off in the face of cancer treatment, heartbreak or other adversity, may your days be doused with hope, too.