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An article in Time magazine (20 November, 2023), damned near bounced me off the couch. Under The Brief Health, lay the single-page story “5 ways to cultivate hope when you don’t have any” by Angela Haupt. It suggests a global atmosphere of tragedy that has left so many of us with a sense of hopelessness. Quoting some leading figures in the field, it continues to suggest some intriguing alternatives to despair. It was the first of five suggestions that had me out of my seat.

Seagull flying among clouds and blue sky

(Quoting directly from the article): Number 1. Give yourself permission to be hopeful. Remember when you were a kid, and well-intentioned adults cautioned you not to get your hopes up? That mentality can linger, notes David Feldman, a professor of counseling psychology at Santa Clara University in California. “The truth is, whether or not we allow ourselves to hope, at some point we’re going to be disappointed,” he says. “I don’t think the solution is never allowing ourselves to feel hopeful or giving up on hope altogether.” So go ahead and grant yourself permission to look toward the future with excitement and ambition.

Why my reaction? A lifetime of communication, psychology, coaching, and teaching has led me to the single word: Permission. Whether the goal is reconciliation with others or with yourself, or increased performance in your players or your students, or doing something about the health of our world, motivation is meaningless without first accepting the fact that it is all right to change—all right to say, “I will try.” Sounds simple, but when you see the light behind the eyes of someone who first recognizes this fact—who realizes how long he has denied himself this truth, or how long she has hidden from hope—well, it’s like watching a bird fly from a cage that has never been locked.

Staring at the word confirmed what I already knew. Seeing that others have arrived at this precise conclusion provided the leap to action. “I am not alone!” I shouted to several of my dogs who were looking at me with cocked heads. A year ago I had worked to create what I called the Permission Project. This was to be a weekly meeting of people who simply wanted to spend time with others who wished to pursue…anything. The first goal would be to come to the awareness that anything was indeed just fine. Moving toward that would follow. But that stalled. Now it seems that the time is right for just this sort of coming together, and so my personal goal for this December is to resuscitate the project. It’s all right to begin again.

Stanley Odle

24 November 2023

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Absolutely. This is the perfect time! We’re all finally feeling like it’s safe to explore again, and find our new journeys in life. I say resuscitate the project!

Stanley W. Odle
Stanley W. Odle

Thank you. The uncertainty is the clue that I may be on the right track. It is, after all, moving forward into uncertainty that sparks the illumination of hope.

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