in: Mindful Moment

Mindful Moment #30 – Would You Like Some Hopium?

Take a deep breath
On Being a Hopium Dealer
My self-assigned task here can be summarized best by “deliver positivity” even when things may not seem very positive in the world. I try to acknowledge the fact that we don’t exist in a constant state of hopeful bliss, but it is something we can create if we want to. I like to think of our bliss-conjuring abilities as the true magic in the world, where mindfulness and openness and getting into tune with our environments and ourselves can become the fulfillment we may be looking for, at least in part. I’m just a regular person sharing thoughts and ideas in my somewhat less than elevated and overly wordy way, but my ability to spin something into hopefulness is what I use to create a message I think is worthy of sharing. 
Which brings me to the concept of “hopium.” I heard the term in recent weeks in the lead up to the elections and understood that the term was used in a chiding way, warning political pundits to not be too assuring lest the public take the elections less than seriously. “Hopium” was coined online, though, and is commonly used to deride people who seem to be ignoring realistic reasons to be concerned and operating on hope alone. 
I find myself all too familiar with reality, however. It can be a wearisome undertaking to wrestle with only reality day after day. When things take a downturn or seem like they aren’t going your way, you can’t just sit there and accept it and do nothing else. If you do, your heart is going to grow a callous on it. You’ll be doomed to apathy. 
The antidote for apathy is hope. If you’ve never watched Shawshank Redemption, go watch it right now. I’ll wait. 
Okay, so now you know Andy Dufresne had to dose himself with hopium on the daily, and he did that in a variety of ways. Arranging for beers for his friends on a hot afternoon. Asking for more library books. Playing opera on a prison loudspeaker. Digging through prison walls by hand, and dropping the rubble in the prison yard by the pocketful. In his final message of encouragement to his friend, Red, he wrote, “Hope is a good thing, maybe even the best of things. And good things never die.” The movie is remarkable because of Andy’s “addiction” to hope.
Having the audacity to have hope in the face of adversity is not only courageous—it’s simply the only option for overcoming that adversity. Tricking yourself into believing something that allows you to move forward with the outlook of possibility is a valid means of survival. Some people hate to see it, but other people will see you as an inspiration. Hope is conveniently ever renewable and contagious.
Yes, of course, if you need to drop the hopefulness to mourn, to be angry, to rage against the machine, to cry, or to express whatever emotion you need to when things go awry, these are also valid. But what happens the next day, the next month, the next year, when you are ready to move forward? You breathe, you center yourself, and you make a plan. This, in and of itself, is an act of hope. 
I know I normally give you a meditation but today, it seems like a good time for another creed. If you need help getting some hopium, maybe this will deliver.
Creed for the Hopeful
The broad darkness of night
Spreads it wings over the land.
Its heartbeat sounds like thunder;
The wind, its chilled breath.
Within its embrace, I find rest.
I am lulled by the song of night creatures
And cozied by the light of stars.
I hope with a certain kind of trust
That the sun will rise tomorrow
And I will see morning again.
There will be the grace of sunshine,
The elixir of coffee and cream,
The sweetness of dew drenched grasses,
And the glory of feeling rested,
Stretching every limb to satisfaction
And stepping into the possibility of the day.
I hope for a happy heart,
For enjoyable work,
For friendships and laughter,
For abundance and delight,
For wherewithal and ability,
For success and generosity,
For fairness and justice.
I hope to find my way
To where my soul means to go.
I hope there is peace.
I hope there is love.
I hope there is another blanket of night
To draw over my shoulders
And rest deeply once again. 
I know it can feel disingenuous to look for hope in the future when the present seems hollow, but there is always a chance for tomorrow to bring something new, something better, and something solid. 
If nothing else, make plans to get a good night’s sleep. 
As always, namaste.


We’re feeling inspired by these incredible and thought provoking pieces:

  1. Section of destroyed shuttle Challenger found on ocean floor A large section of the destroyed space shuttle Challenger has been found buried in sand at the bottom of the Atlantic, more than three decades after the tragedy that killed a schoolteacher and six others.
  2. How to know if breathwork is right for you Breathwork tutorials are popular on social media, but experts say beginners should be cautious.
  3. Mindfulness-based stress reduction is as effective as an antidepressant drug for treating anxiety disorders, study finds A guided mindfulness-based stress reduction program was as effective as use of the gold-standard drug — the common antidepressant drug escitalopram — for patients with anxiety disorders, new research finds.
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