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Find out about the
award-winning bestseller Dream

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How do you find courage and hope?

Read the green pages in the book Dream. What does the color green bring to mind for you? The green pages represent dreams reached for and achieved, when things in your life are falling into place and you feel a sense of pride, accomplishment, and contentment. Start by making a list of goals you've achieved or moments when you've felt really happy, strong, and hopeful. Decorate the page with bright colors -- especially green! -- and post the list someplace where you'll see it every day or few days.

Research tells us that although we would love to spend most of our life in the green, we often get pulled into the gray when hard, sad, or scary things happen. Most people spend much of their life moving between gray and green. A critical life skill is knowing how to move from the gray to the green, how to find hope. You have to confront and work through fears and difficult times to find the courage to try new things.

Explore the illustration on pages 10-11 (the teenager page) and the illustration and text on pages 20-21 (the first gray page) in Dream. What do you see? How do you feel? What does the color gray make you think of and feel?

Hope helps us find our way through the gray to the green. We all need it, but what is "hope?" You hear people talk about having "high hopes." We "hope" something will or will not happen. We say we're "hopeful" about the future. When we use the word "hope" in these ways, it's synonymous with saying "want" or "expectation." What we're really saying is, "I want something to turn out the way I would like." Hope ends up being a rather passive, "wait and see attitude" to the desired goal. It isn't an active process used to reach objectives.

Hope has to be more active, more dynamic. Hope is a process, a process that can be learned and pursued. Hope looks at what is and comes up with a plan for achieving what can be. Hope projects alternate realities and is rooted in a deep-seated need to believe that the world can be other than it is.

Said playwright and Czech Republic President Vaclav Havel:

Hope is an orientation of the spirit, an orientation of the heart; it transcends the world that is immediately experienced, and is anchored somewhere beyond its horizons. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the conviction that something is moral and right and just and therefore you fight regardless of the consequences.

If a class is doing this activity, brainstorm ideas for moving through the gray to the green, for cultivating hope. Every person's strategies will be different. Maybe you find hope and strength in family, music, your imagination, reading stories about the struggles others have overcome, taking a walk in the park, enjoying a treat of ice cream, or even shooting some hoops.

Here are some other tips for getting out of the gray and solving any problem:

  • Don't assume a problem is negative. Look at it as a challenge, an opportunity.
  • Separate your problems into categories. Which are related to your goals in life? Which are the result of being disorganized or not planning ahead?
  • Learn to distinguish real problems from ones that aren't -- ones you've made up in your head. Maybe you're just imagining a problem exists, or making it bigger than it has to be.
  • Gather information. Read and search the Internet. Ask adults you trust.
  • Outline a problem on paper first. List the things you want to do about it and then the things you can do. Do the two lists match?
  • Break a problem down into as many parts as possible. Then break each part into a series of steps for addressing it.
  • Work backwards. Focus on the problem-solving process, not necessarily the solution.
  • Develop a backup plan. If things don't turn out the way you want, what will you do then?
  • Be flexible. Try something different if what you've done in the past hasn't worked.
  • Talk to yourself. Sometimes thinking out loud does the trick!

On a sheet of paper, make a list of all the personal ideas and strategies that help you find courage and hope. Fold the sheet into thirds. Decorate the outside of the sheet with gray stars. Decorate the inside of the sheet with green stars. Keep the sheet in your desk drawer or bedside table drawer. The next time you feel stuck in the gray, pull out the sheet and use the reminders to help propel you into action, to move from the gray to the green.

© SV Bosak, www.legacyproject.org


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