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Sharing The Habits of Hope! (Can You Grow More Hope?)

After reading a pre-release copy of my about to be released book, The Habits of Hope: Self-Leadership Strategies to Unleash Your Bigger Purpose, my friend Moe Girkins, the fomer CEO of Zondervan Publishing had this to say, ”We are often told to have hope, but few have ever ventured to explain how to hope." I so agree! If none of us can live without any hope, then what happens when we lack degrees of hope? Do we just cross our fingers and hope more that things can change? That we can change? That there's a bigger purpose and more happiness out there.. for us! I personally wondered if some people were more able to just turn on a switch and become optimistic, postive and exicted about life and all it brings.

  • But what about those of us who would love to have more hope?

  • What about those who want a better positive imagination or more excitement about their future? What about them? ...

  • And for years,more than a decade even, could I change?

My Story With Anxiety, Depression and a Void of Hope

For years to most I would have appeared "normal" or happy on the outside… I was a pastor. An author. Ivy League degree. An athlete (albeit an aging one : ) ) The truth was I was slowly dying on the inside. I struggled to want to keep doing what I was doing. I had a hard time getting out of bed. I stopped going to parties and avoided people. I didn't return phone calls from friends. And I told myself all the typical things including “Just be positive.” “Just trust God.” “Believe things will work out.” “Just keep going!” “Hope!” For a long time I would never have admitted suffering from or experiencing anything that could be labeled "anxiety" or "depression." (Even today wondered whether to write this post!) Maybe I just had a “busy mind.” I was “disappointed.” I was “getting older.” I simply enjoyed “sleep.” I just needed “space from annoying people.” Then when a doctor listened to my symptoms and prescribed anti-depressants… I was shocked. Me? How can this be my life? And at first, I admit, there was some relief. (So do go to a doctor if what you have is severe or if you have questions!) But, Then even they started to wear off. Then doctors tried me on a new merry-go-round of meds. Even treated me for ADHD. Maybe it was allergies. Even with all the "meds" I was still experiencing regular anxiety. I didn’t I EVER sleep through a night. I wanted to get away. Get away from ME!

I came to see I was far from alone.

  • 30 million Americans are currently on antidepressants.

  • 250 million prescriptions for painkillers are written each year!

  • The world health organization estimates that anxiety and depression will impose the second biggest health burden globally by 2020.

And… if that’s the stats diagnosis… how could this physical and brain altering mindset be affecting many others and keeping them from living into their God-given purpose?

In my own darkest moments I came to want just some way out. I wanted to escape from my own existence and reality…even while preaching sermons and sharing the “good news.”

Were there any spiritual answers I was missing?

Did God just make some of us tempermentally melancholy and prone to depression … and eventually create angsty art? Or was their a way forward that many of us miss in HOW TO GAIN MORE HOPE?

I began reading, experimenting and eventually experiencing non-medication things that restored my soul. A way of life that heals. I began getting questions ansewred by studying those I repsected who had not experienced chronic anxiety and depression and those who had found healing and breakthrough.

And, most importantly, I became my own test case. Years worth of test case!

What can bring healing to the inside stuff holding us back and unleash our bigger purpose?

And as I started to learn and grow, somewhere along the line almost 10 years was born a story I began to write…. Since writing is a way I experience my own healing and grown, I wrote this book just for me…. a story of one persons journey to find and restore hope in an authentic way…. that includes the spiritual, emotional, vocational, physical and even financial factors that all play a role in our soul health.

As I began reading sections of the book to friend, often with tears in my eyes, they would constantly say, “Why don’t you finish and publish this?”

The Idea Behind "The Habits of Hope"

I asked, what if...

  1. We were able to step away from our busy lives and engage a mountain retreat? (A place to get some distance from the noise ordinary life? A place to "be.")

  2. We could learn from a wise mentor who’s been there and found healing… (in the book, Mr. Turnquest)

  3. Find the practical and doable ways to learn how to hope… or hope again?

Results being we learned

  • Practices that restored the soul

  • Ways to become more happy NOW.

  • Ways to feel better about life and ourselves

  • Renewed excitement to care more about others

And thus began my journey of living… and now sharing these "Habits of Hope" through a fictional encounter with a place called Hope.. where people live without depression and have authentic optimism.

I can’t tell you how much I’ve grown in my own study and by writing this book! And as I would read sections of it to friends and family, often with tears in my eyes, they would say, “Jeff, why aren’t you finishing this book??”

I didn’t know. Maybe I wasn’t ready. Maybe the message wasn’t ready. Maybe I was just scared to go public with my own journey of being hope deficient in large parts of my life.

But now I can’t wait to share this book and these 12 habits of hope with you!

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