In one of my earliest posts, I wrote about how on the weekend of my diagnosis, I wandered around the streets of New York City muttering to myself, "I need a plan… I need a plan… I need a plan..." I then remembered something my father said in talking about something horrible that had happened in his life. I asked him, "What did you do?" He responded: "What do you think I did? I had a wife and children to support. I got up the next day and I went to work." At that point, I felt that I did not need a plan. I believed strongly that all I needed to do was to get up on Monday and go to work.
I realize now that I was wrong. I did need a plan and I was forming one. Although I was unaware of it at the time, "getting up on Monday and going to work", was a step in a plan (actually a Plan B) toward a goal. The goal was happiness and I would reach it through a process called hope.
I recently read Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brené Brown. In this book, she illustrates that hope is often a Plan B.
In short, your life is going along well when something happens, such as an illness or financial crisis and you realize that you need a Plan B. She then referenced The Psychology of Hope: You Can Get Here From There by C.R. Snyder
Snyder's research indicates that hope is not the same as wishing or optimism, but an actual process in which hope = mental willpower + waypower used to achieve goals. Hope is not optimism but there are correlations in that high hope people tend to be optimistic.
The difference is that an optimist often looks for external variables to explain away failures, while someone who is high on the hope scale links her actions to her success. High hope people often recognize that the plan used in attempt to achieve a goal was ill-conceived or poorly executed. Either way, they try again!
- Willpower is a reservoir of determination and commitment
- Waypower is composed of mental plans or roadmaps, which provide a route to your goals
- Waypower often provides alternate paths to goals or a Plan B
- Hopeful people are often the ones who have overcome previous difficulties
Back To Me
In my early 30s, I finally came to grips with fact that I was not a happy person. I also decided that I did not have to be this way and made achieving and maintaining happiness my goal. I soon realized that therapy and medication alone would not get me there. I decided, therefore, to take a behavioral approach. As a social researcher, I decided to observe happy people and then to do what they did. Yes, I actually did this! What I learned was truly enlightening and very simple. I found that happy people danced!
The year was 1998 and for some reason, it seemed like everyone I knew was swing dancing. I then saw the Gap commercial for khakis (see below) and it changed my life. I took swing dancing lessons three nights a week and even learned some fancy aerials. I never became a good dancer, in fact, I would say that I was mediocre. I did, however, make a lot of new friends who I am still close with today. These friends changed my life and I was happy.
After being diagnosed, I needed a Plan B. I knew that dancing, being physically fit and even becoming Vice President of Student Affairs would not lead to happiness. In an unconscious and haphazard manner, I put together this plan that included:
- Seeing my doctor on a regular basis
- Taking my medication
- Clinging tight to family and friends
- Asking for help when I needed it (Thanks to Kate Lynch for this advice)
- Becoming involved with the Parkinson's Foundation (Thanks to Jori Fleisher)
How did it work out? Pretty well. My hope score is average (24), but overall, I would say that I am fairly happy. In the past four years, I (*we) have:
- Participated on two patient panels
- Raised $5000 for a Parkinson's Disease charity
- Was a guest on Parkisnon's TV
- Contributed to a published article
- Attended two trainings with the Parkinson's Foundation
- Was the co-recipient of a grant
- Participated in a clinical trial
- Donated my DNA
- Took part in multiple research studies
*I almost never accomplish anything without a great deal of help from family, friends and colleagues. The above accomplishments were the result of group effort.-->
What Does This All Mean?
I do not smile that often, but every once in a while, someone captures a moment.
Here I am with Ocean.
What Does This All Mean?
I think that the hope scale has tremendous potential for studying people with Parkinson's Disease. This instrument could be used to see how a lack of dopamine in Parkinson's patients affects willpower. I also wonder if the "fuzzy thinking" found in many Parkinson's patients affects waypower? I hope that doctors, nurses and therapists start using this instrument in treating people with Parkinson's disease.
Why not try the Hope Scale. yourself? Answer each question honestly with a corresponding number, add up your scores and and see how you did in both the willpower and waypower categories.
1 = Definitely False 2 = Mostly False 3 = Mostly True 4 = Definitely True
_____ 1. I energetically pursue my goals.
_____ 2. I can think of many ways to get out of a jam.
_____ 3. My past experiences have prepared me well for my future.
_____ 4. There are lots of ways around any problem.
_____ 5. I have been pretty successful in life.
_____ 6. I can think of many ways to get the things in life that are most important to me.
_____ 7. I meet the goals that I set for myself.
_____ 8. Even when others get discouraged, I know that I can find a way to solve the problem.
Waypower = Even
24 Average score
Below 24 = low hope
Above 24 = high hope
I still believe in a process called hope!-->