“Active Hope is a practice. Like tai chi or gardening, it is something we do rather than have. It is a process we can apply to any situation, and it involves three key steps. First, we take a clear view of reality; second, we identify what we hope for in terms of the direction we’d like things to move in or the values we’d like to see expressed; and third, we take steps to move ourselves or our situation in that direction.”

Active Hope, p.3

Navigating the overwhelming tide of negative news—gun violence, climate change, social injustice, political conflicts—can often leave us feeling weighed down and powerless. The state of the world sometimes feels so daunting that it induces a heavy sense of grief and despair. Finding hope and believing in our capacity to make a difference can seem almost impossible in such times.

This is where “Active Hope,” an approach I recently learned about through Donna Gaffney, offers a pathway to agency and action. It provides a framework for engaging with the world’s challenges as an ongoing personal and collective project, promoting a healthy and empowered way forward. Here’s a deeper look into the five-stage cycle of Active Hope:

Get Real The first stage is about facing the harsh realities without denial or avoidance. This involves allowing ourselves to feel the weight of it all—sadness, anger, or fear—through practices like journaling, discussing with others, or simply sitting with these emotions. By getting real, we start processing and moving through the heaviness.

Journaling: Regularly write about your thoughts and feelings concerning global issues to understand and articulate your emotions.

Conversation: Engage in honest discussions with friends or support groups to share your fears and concerns, creating a sense of solidarity.

Mindfulness: Practice staying present with your emotions through techniques like meditation.

Appreciate the Good Once we’ve acknowledged the challenges, it’s crucial to balance this by recognizing and appreciating the positive efforts and progress happening around us. This conscious effort helps reignite our sense of hope.

Gratitude Journals: Maintain a journal to note positive developments, no matter how small.

Community Involvement: Get involved in local initiatives to see positive impacts firsthand.

Positive Media: Seek out and share stories of hope and progress from platforms focusing on uplifting news.

Venting Expressing our emotions in healthy ways is essential to prevent burnout and despair. Venting acts as a crucial release valve.

Creative Expression: Engage in activities like painting, music, or dance to creatively express your feelings.

Therapy: Talk to a professional therapist for strategies to process complex emotions.

Support Networks: Join or form groups for sharing experiences and mutual support.

Envisioning Imagining a better future helps to motivate and guide our actions. Envisioning what a thriving, just, and sustainable world looks like can be inspiring and motivating.

Vision Boards: Create visual representations of your ideal world using inspiring images and words.

Workshops and Retreats: Participate in events focused on future envisioning and goal setting.

Storytelling: Write stories or essays about your envisioned future to inspire others and reinforce your commitment.

Action Finally, taking concrete steps, no matter how small, towards our vision is crucial. This stage is about feeling empowered to make a difference.

Personal Habits: Implement small, sustainable changes in your daily life, like reducing waste or supporting ethical brands.

Community Projects: Join or start local projects that align with your vision, such as community gardens or recycling programs.

Advocacy and Activism: Get involved in broader movements through volunteering, donating, or advocating for policy changes.

Ongoing Cycle and Community Engagement

Active Hope is not a linear process but an ongoing cycle. Regularly engage with each stage to sustain your sense of agency and hope.

Regular Check-Ins: Periodically reflect on where you are in the cycle and what you need to focus on next.

Collective Efforts: Find or create communities practicing Active Hope together, amplifying individual efforts, and sustaining long-term engagement.

By embracing these principles, we can maintain our sense of agency and hope, recognizing that while we may not solve all the world’s problems alone, our collective actions can create significant change. Active Hope reminds us that it’s about the journey as much as the destination and that we all have a part to play in creating the world we dream of.

I am just beginning to learn about this process, and already feel a shift! 


Active Hope by Joanna Macy & Chris Johnstone

Active Hope – free training





Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *