Sometimes life gets a little bit too real for my liking.

Sometimes you’re having one of the best weeks ever. You get an appreciative email that you save in a folder you’ve named “Nice Stuff,” you’re having a series of good hair days, you make it to your exercise class every day, your reservation to a fancy hotel with 1000-thread-count sheets in Hawaii comes through and you get to rub it in (just a tiny bit) to all of the people who doubted your optimism.

And then, sometimes, even during those weeks that seem very good to the point you are feeling almost invincible, your phone rings. And you hear the shaky voice of your friend who has two small children the same age as yours. And she tells you that her husband died unexpectedly. And then sometimes, when your heart is hurting profoundly and you are disoriented by imagining the inexplicable pain your friend and her children are going through, you get another phone call. And you hear that your husband’s grandmother died of the cancer that had been slowly robbing her of her spunky personality over the past two years. And even though that call was expected and you know that she was hurting and ready, the reality of her not being there anymore feels empty. And the compounding of these losses overwhelms you with sadness. And you feel flat.

Yet, in these dark moments, there are still small glimpses of hope that feel nice. Hope that comes through the touch of your daughter’s small hand on your cheek, hope in the goodness of people showing up for a friend to help with laundry and cooking, hope in the power of our family coming together and sharing stories of a life well lived, and laughing even while tears of missing someone are running down our faces.

Hope is the belief that no matter how crummy things seem to be, you believe it will change. Hope is a choice. It’s saying, “I won’t be paralyzed by the not-so-good stuff.”

It’s especially nice to feel like we can borrow some hope from others when we are feeling short of our own.

Author: Alyssa Forcehimes, PhD

An expert in behavior change, substance use disorders and empathic communication, Dr. Alyssa Forcehimes serves as President of The Change Companies® and Train for Change Inc.® She lives in Arizona with her husband and two daughters.