The American Heritage Dictionary defines Hope as being: "A wish for something with expectation, and Inspiration as being: Stimulation of the mind or emotions to a high level."

Recently I have been asking people if they feel hopeful and inspired about their lives. At first they look at me with a puzzled expression, then respond with: I don't know, or I haven't thought about it. Then I had the audacity to ask: Where do you go to find hope and inspiration? And, how would your life be different if you were hopeful and inspired?

Once again, the answers were not forthcoming.

For me these two simple words impact me deeply and are the catalysts that rouse my life passion. Take a moment during your day when you can close your eyes, go within, try to eliminate the rushing thoughts and try to feel what it is like to be hopeful and inspired. Then try and think about something that stirs your interests and increases your energy. Hold onto these thoughts and feelings because they can make each day more rewarding and exciting.

As we grow older many of us seem to lose some of the enthusiasm and passion we had for life when we were younger. The desire to explore the many options that are available to us seem to wane with time. We seem to just accept what life has to offer rather than challenge the status quo.

Just because we are older doesn't mean that we have to lose the zest for life, in fact, it should be just the opposite. By the time we have reached the age of 50 and/or older each day becomes more valuable and in turn should be the encouragement we need to explore new opportunities.

The problem that many of us must address though is where do we go to be inspired and hopeful about life? If you look long enough and search deep enough the answers will be found, but it is up to you to find what makes a difference in your life.

Once you begin feeling the energy that radiates from being inspired and hopeful share your enthusiasm with others. It will amaze you the positive impact you will have on people around you, even complete strangers. In turn your enthusiasm will continue to grow because you will begin to realize that you are now a source of inspiration and hope that other people are seeking.

Rich Hedlund is in private practice in Astoria with his wife, Pam McGill at Cycles of Transition, specializing in midlife mental health.

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