Remember that delicious new relationship feeling? how buoyant you are? how you can do anything? how the future shines so bright? It's a bit like that with a new baby too. You're full of excitement about what this particular child will do with their life.
Both of these situations make you very aware of the possibilities and opportunities open to you. So some of that buzz maybe due to body chemistry and sleep deprivation, some of it is due to your attitude. You're willing to be positive, you're willing to be happy and hopeful.
Of course life presents lots of situations that make feeling hopeful a much tougher challenge. Many of these situations crop up in close relationships. When your partnership is lackluster, your children behave like barbarians, or your friends forget you, hope is often the farthest thing from your mind.
When boredom or desperation start to get the upper hand in your relationship, take hold of your hope. When your picture of the future is full of gloom, you are usually stuck with a very narrow range of possibilities about how things can be.
When you introduce hope to the situation, its amazing how often other possibilities start to emerge. So for example, when you are locked in an ongoing battle with your child over their behaviour, it feels like every time you see each other you argue and every time you argue you feel defeated.
If you decided to get hold of your hope you might start to deliberately focus on something positive about your child. Next time they disagree with you or defy you, you might say "You know, I really admire how you can stand up for yourself. That's quite a hard thing to do. Are there other situations where you stand up for yourself like this?"
Of course it won't instantly fix things. But it does make a start. All of a sudden you're showing your child that far from being down on them all the time, actually, you think they are capable, that you like and respect something about them.
It's a much more hopeful message for the relationship, because it tells your child that you value them and that you want to be around them. It tells them that you see the relationship as being about much more than the conflict going on at the moment. It suggests that you have strong hopes of a respectful and admiring relationship with them in the future.
The great thing about hope is how infectious it is. At first your kid might not even notice it, or they might think its just another example of a parent being weird. But sooner or later, they'll warm to the genuine compliment you offer.
When you offer someone a hopeful picture of themselves, it attracts them. They want to be part of it. They feel good when a skill or a good intention is recognised. We all like to be round people who have that knack of helping us feel good about ourselves.
The more we are with people who give us hope, the more we start to become people who act and think in a hopeful way.
So introduce hope into your relationships. Its one infection you'll really enjoy.
If you would like help to find the hope in your relationships, contact Relationships Aotearoa on 0800 735 283 or telephone your local office which is listed in the telephone directory.