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"We grew up in poor, broken homes in New Jersey neighborhoods riddled with crime, drugs, and death … There were no doctors or lawyers walking the streets …But inspired early by caring and imaginative role models, one of us in childhood latched on to a dream … a college program for minority students interested in becoming doctors … And so we made a pact: we'd help one another… the right friends inspire you, pull you through, rise with you."

- The Pact by Drs. Sampson Davis, George Jenkins, and Rameck Hunt

The gift of hope is revealed in a spectrum of hope-based attachments (e.g., friends, community, a higher power). In this chapter we describe how early childhood experiences can foster an "attached self" and identify the skills needed to be a "hope provider". A connection between love and hope is revealed in van Gogh's paintings, Dickens' Great Expectations, and Steinbeck's East of Eden. We also explore the messages of hope contained in the greatest romantic films. A final section offers suggestions for bonding with nature, a higher power, or the rest of humanity.

Related issues covered in our book

  • Hope for humanity: The greatest hope is born of humanity's greatest longing; an end to separateness
  • The attached self: Understanding the importance of hopeful imprints, trust and openness
  • Being a hope provider: The nine traits that you need to impart hope to a child or another adult
  • Friends and lovers: Qualities that foster hope within love relationships and among friends
  • Creating a spiritual connection: How to evoke a mystical or spiritual bond with a higher power, nature, or humanity

Hope Tip #11: Are you a good hope provider?

Do you have the qualities needed to transmit hope to a child, friend, lover, a student, or a client? In Hope in the Age of Anxiety, we offer a Hope Provider Scale. This quick self-assessment tool can help you to assess your overall skill level as a hope provider. This test is also designed to help you to evaluate your particular strengths and weakness with respect to the nine hope provider traits.

Below we have listed some of the key traits that you need to be a hope provider. How many of these characteristics do you possess? Where do you need to focus your energy to improve as a hope provider?

Availability: Building trust

The "vail" in the word availability suggests that something of value has been placed within reach. Similarly, every major religion presumes there is a positive force or benign transcendent reality that is readily obtainable. In the New Testament it is written "Ask and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock and it will be open to you." In the Pali Canon, the Buddha lists the benefits of a contemplative life that are "visible in the here-and-now, including "inner assurance", "tranquility" and "rapture."

The first suggestion for imparting hope is to be available. When you provide access, consistency, and sensitivity to another it reinforces the notion that goodness is present and the universe can be trusted. When you are absent, unreliable, and indifferent to the needs of another, it stalls the development of hope.

Presence: Facilitating openness

Presence literally means, "to be in front of". If you wish to bring hope to someone else, the person must be confronted by your presence. People cannot apprehend what is invisible or ghostlike. Your presence must also be of the right kind, allowing people to seek it and to remain in its orbit. The essence of presence is focus, congruence and safeness. The right amount and type of presence will encourage openness in the hope seeker.

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