Set an intention, take an oath, make a vow, a pledge, a commitment… we have many ways of establishing our will to fulfill a certain role or deliver an expected outcome, but we don’t always succeed in these endeavors. We’re only human. And yet, acts of commitment have existed from the moment we could communicate with one another, and with God, for good reason. In the Old Testament, a wise and successful King Solomon writes: “Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” The King James Version reads: “Commit your works to the LORD, And your thoughts will be established.”
Thoughts, those things we can’t always control and oftentimes despair over. Commit your works — the work of gratitude, a daily practice of prayer and thanksgiving, the search for reasons to hope, to the Lord and your thoughts will be established. Our thoughts will naturally turn toward gratitude when we set an intention, when we make the commitment to look for signs of hope.
Research has shown that the brain does not recognize the difference between ritual and actual experience, so when we make an intentional vow to do something, we increase the likelihood that we will actually do it. As we set out on this journey together, let’s first begin with a commitment, a vow to practice gratitude in our own human messy everyday way, however it looks or feels. Write it down, it could be as simple as “I commit to look for gratitude each day and I will write down what I discover.” Or make it more specific to your practice, whatever clearly states your intention. Post your vow on the bathroom mirror or kitchen fridge, or by your bed, somewhere you will see it regularly. Consider inviting a friend to join you in this practice and commit to check in on each other as you write your Book of Hope. Our commitments are powerful and lasting.
“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way. I learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets:“
Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!
-William Hutchison Murray, from The Scottish Himalayan Expedition
For those of you just joining us this week, welcome to Reasons to Hope. Here’s your invitation:
Write the Book of Hope
The Daily 5
Collective daily gratitude journal
Join me in writing down 5 things you’re thankful for, pen on paper if you’re up for it. If that becomes an impediment to actually getting the gratitudes down every day, use your phone, whatever works, it’s about the action of recognizing what you’re thankful for on the reg. I will say that handwriting is optimal as it slows down the brain enough to realize things that you might not recognize in the swirl of digital communication, even with yourself. Plus it’s just a lovely ritual to have your Book of Hope by your bedside; even just looking at it will remind you of your practice and all the joy it contains. And it will serve as a memento of your journey for years to come.
Quality is always over quantity here, so if you get overwhelmed, figure out what works best for you. Maybe it’s not daily, or maybe it’s not 5. Maybe it’s 25 when the spirit flows. Take this month to find your own rhythm and then commit to that. It’s more about establishing a practice than worrying about numbers.
Weekly Reasons to Hope
Reflect on what gives you reason to hope. This could be directly tied to the moment or the week ahead, or could be something broader and more far reaching, reasons that you’ve carried with you throughout your life. Start with the statement “_____ gives me hope because…” and write out what it is about this idea or person or thing or experience that offers you hope — anything from your kids, your work, the beauty of the natural world, wherever you feel inspired. Consider the ways you see this reason to hope and your process of finding hope. Reflecting on this can be just as revealing as identifying the source of hope.
We invite you to join our community, sharing reflections, daily gratitudes and weekly reasons to hope. Over the coming weeks, we’ll introduce a variety of ways to connect. For now, comment
-in the weekly Instagram video chat Mondays at 3pm EST
-on our weekly Instagram post
-tweet us at @rootandvinenews
We love pictures! Snap a shot from your Book of Hope, or a picture of your Reason to Hope and tag us #bookofhope #reasonstohope
Let’s do this! See you next Monday at 3pm EST on Root & Vine’s Instagram.