Hope

Today I had a woman in my office who shared with me, tears streaming down her face, that she hated what her life had become and she would rather die than go on living this way.

I found her words very moving, because she’s a smart, kind, likeable, capable woman with wonderful family, a network of friends, a great job, and deep faith.

But she’s tired of being overweight, and tired of treating herself like a garbage can. She takes care of everyone but herself. At the end of the day, after everything has been done and everyone else’s needs have been attended to, she sits in front of the TV and eats.

Sound familiar?

She works at my college, and she knows I teach a course on The Psychology of Eating. She originally reached out to me to ask if she could audit my upcoming Psych of Eating class.

She’s clear on one thing: She’s ready to make a change.

I told her that my course isn’t what she needs. Theory and textbooks won’t help her.

She needs an action plan.

She needs a food plan.

But most of all, she needs HOPE.

By the time she walked out of my office, hardly an hour later, she had all of the above.

Besides being a tremendously rewarding way to spend an afternoon, this exchange got me thinking.

What, exactly, is this thing we call “hope”?

What is it that she received in talking with me for those few minutes that restored the warmth and light to her eyes?

Believe it or not, there is now a scientific answer to that question. Positive Psychologists, psychologists who study “what makes life worth living,” including things like character strengths, flourishing marriages, and happiness-boosting activities, also study hope.

One prominent view, Snyder’s Hope Theory, says that hope is made up of three things.

The first component is the expectation that the future will be better than the present. There has to be a goal in the mix, and it has to be a positive goal. Erik Erikson defined hope as, “The enduring belief in the attainability of fervent wishes.” On its own, the belief in a brighter future isn’t really much different than optimism. But, of course, optimism and hope are not the same. Hope goes further.

Hence, the second component, which is a pathway. There has to be some road you could travel to get to this brighter future. This is why reading a good non-fiction book can be so uplifting. It provides a pathway.

But when you add the final ingredient, you really get the special sauce. The third component is agency, which is the belief that you yourself can travel that pathway and get to that goal, that promised land.

When I talked with this colleague today, I didn’t stand on a high mountain top and disseminate a lot of information about how her insulin levels are too high and they’re blocking the hormone leptin from being active in the brain, and how she’s consuming more calories than she’s burning, and if she eats less and exercises more she’ll lose weight.

Nope. I said none of that.

Instead, I showed her my fat picture.

She looked at it and nodded. “Yup,” she said. “That’s pretty much what I look like.”

Then I told her that I’d followed a method of eating called Bright Line Eating™ and it had worked for me.

I printed off a food plan.

I gave her a bulleted list of instructions for getting started.

I told her how to access the secret Bright Line Eating™ online community. She was all too willing to pay a few bucks a month to access 24-hour support for her journey. Plus, she knew she’d meet other people in the group who are on the same path, heading for the same goal.

Suddenly, it happened.

She had hope.

Not because she was healthier, more knowledgeable, or more talented.

But because she now could see the image of a bright future, knew the path to walk to get there, and could picture herself doing it.

That’s what we become, each one of us, when we grow into the best version of ourselves. We become beacons of hope.

When we talk with someone and describe our journey, they know that if we can do it, they can do it too.

With love,
Susan

P.S. – Scroll down and leave a comment! I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Comments

  1. David Keeney

    So well put Susan. You are so wonderful to share your journey in such a public way. And your efforts to help foment a positive journey for those who have decided they too would like to make a change is highly commendable!!!!

    I just discovered, or rediscovered, one of greatest literary works in the course of history; and this, a version, that has been updated from 100 years ago. How To Win Friends and Influence People In The Digital Age. So very many/and hard won examples/that are so needed in these times when we, more often than not, find the most satisfaction in “comfort foods”. I see it in yesterdays news……Sonic has more aptly discovered who their customer is….and, unlike their competitors, has chosen not to have salads et.al. on their menu – therefore their stock is up 3 fold in the past three years; McDonalds making fun of Quinoa/and Vegetarians with an ad for their Big Mac/and a new ad for a burger with three patties; Arby’s/mix and match/The Place of MEAT.

    We so need the human connection today more than ever; it is a part of our essence and our evolution. And too in my discovery of the series of NO B.S. Marketing Books – the message has to be of import to the customer; People care most about themselves; and that is important to know and focus on. As the famous saying goes: “People don’t care so much about you until they realize how much you care about them.” Priceless!!!

    Thank you for enhancing and giving us hope.

    The same Dale Carnegie book I mentioned indicated the challenges of change, much as you have highlighted in the past; 70% of the changes companies hope to implement – in fact – remain unchanged.

    May God Bless you and yours,

    David

    Reply ·
    1. Susan Peirce Thompson, Ph.D.

      David, thank you for your insightful comment (and commentary). My mom first gave me the book How to Win Friends and Influence People (the original) when I was 10 years old. She told me that if I didn’t want to do chores, I could read that book instead and it could count as a substitute. Lol. Such wisdom in there. You’re right. Food is about connection, and the best connection is simple human connection. Thanks for your support and comments!

      Reply ·
  2. Rita Goebert

    I carry my “Before” picture with me for my own benefit as well as to show others who need HOPE. You are so right in what you have shared. I can still picture in my mind one lady who stood at the front of the room, who appeared to be about my age and showed her before picture. She looked then how I wished I could look again. She gave me hope and I kept coming back week after week to keep that hope alive. I continued to hear other folks stories of HOPE , just as you are giving with your weekly posts. Keep coming back folks. This program really works, if you put in the effort to take care of yourself. I can vouch for that.

    Reply ·
    1. Susan Peirce Thompson, Ph.D.

      Rita, you are so right. Those “before” pictures are the best beacons of hope in the world. You are a rock star!

      Reply ·
  3. Jade

    Hope! What a wonderful feeling. I’ve been doing Bright Line Eating for 26 days and I am filled with hope. Giving up flour and sugar, commiting my meals , measuring the quantities have given me such freedom . I’m loosing weight, inches , have much less GERD, and arthritis pain. I’m very hopeful about my healthy eating lifestyle .

    Reply ·
    1. Susan Peirce Thompson, Ph.D.

      And those days keep ticking up, up, up Jade! It’s such a privilege to witness your transformation. Simply glorious!!!

      Reply ·
      1. Mila Kaye

        That’s wonderful to hear Jade. Much love mila

        Reply ·
  4. Gloria Weaver

    You have a wonderful way about you! I has been amazing to see you bloom and grow!
    Inspirational!
    I have finally gotten a week of abstinence. Taking me forever to get it back. If I ever break again, some one commit me to the asylum.
    Thanks for doing the caring things you do.
    Love, Gloria

    Reply ·
    1. Susan Peirce Thompson, Ph.D.

      So wonderful to hear that you are back on track, Gloria! Love you!!!

      Reply ·
  5. Mary Jeane

    How do you access the secret online Bright Line eating community?

    Reply ·
    1. Susan Peirce Thompson, Ph.D.

      Mary Jeane,
      You can email my personal assistant Christine (Chris) at Support@BrightLineEating.com and she’ll get you set up. But the community alone is only effective if you’ve already got Bright Line Eating down and you just want to fellowship with others who are doing the same plan. If you want to learn more about Bright Line Eating, Chris can point you in that direction, too.
      I’ll see you in the online community!
      Susan

      Reply ·
  6. Jeanene

    I AM that woman who came into your office. Not literally, but you just described me. PLEASE, how do I get the action steps, eating plan, online community? I am so tired of the guilt and shame that accompanies overeating and weight gain! I am so ready to change once and for all. I do not want to die. I want to really live after years of constant struggle. I am tired of my weight and food and eating defining my entire life!

    Reply ·
    1. Susan Peirce Thompson, Ph.D.

      Jeanene, I soooo feel your pain. You are super in luck. Just two days ago I released a video that I think will help. It’s the first video in a 3-part series, and it will explain the Bright Line Eating system to you. Then, if you want to get started, just watch the 4th video (the “finale”) and you’ll learn about the course I’ll be offering where I teach the Bright Line Eating system. Just check out that video here and you’ll be in the loop. I only offer this twice a year, so your timing is impeccable! https://susanpt.leadpages.net/plc1landing/

      Reply ·
  7. Karen Coghlan

    How can I find the online community and your meal plans?

    Thank you
    Karen

    Reply ·
  8. Lorraine Heal

    Dear Susan,
    Thank you so very much for your scientific yet very emotional videos. I am truly one of those people who could write a book on nutrition and exercise however I just can’t seem to ever get a handle on my emotional eating. I lost 45lbs and kept it off for almost 2 years but this summer I have gained most of it back. I was positive that I was on the right track and would never again find myself fat and out of control but here I am. Again. I am at the end of my hope. I have none left. I can’t for a second imagine life without flour and sugar. I missed the boot camp but I desperately need help.
    Can I join the online community?
    Lorraine

    Reply ·
  9. nikki losasso

    So SO True. I didnt need to hear about what I had been eating, was what made me fat, I already know that I needed to hear a plan !! A really good plan !!! Thats why I instantly knew this was different from anything I’d heard and I came aboard as quickly as possible. I’m struggling but I’m staying…because you’ve given me Hope. Love, Nikki

    Reply ·
  10. David

    “she would rather die than go on living this way”

    Susan

    I was wondering:
    Had she not arrived at that point, how high do you think would her likelihood of failing (again) be?

    Meaning:
    I have the feeling (and I am not a scientist by any means), that we need these kind of moments where something ‘clicks’, in order to get up and do something about an issue that’s been bugging us. If that feeling is missing, then – in my opinion – people usually give up at the first obstacle.

    Best regards
    David

    PS: Do I get an automatic notification when someone answers to my post?

    Reply ·
  11. Marguerite Barnard

    Would you tell me how I may join your helping group that costs $10 Per month? I see you printed out a food plan for the person who came to you for help in your office. I have set my intermediate goal at 200 pounds, I am determined to stay on this plan by planning and preparing my meals as you said, and to be sure I have what I need in the fridge and I am my agent. I am the only one who can do this for myself. I have hope
    .

    Reply ·
  12. Marguerite Barnard

    I am elderly and must do this program now. I have a robust heart, no chloresteral problems, my blood pressure and pulse are good. I have pain in my knees, my shoulders and have neuropathy in my feet and I walk with a cane. I use hiking poles to walk outdoors.

    Reply ·
  13. Marianne

    Reading your blogs is giving me hope! Thank you, Susan!
    Marianne

    Reply ·
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    Hi there! This article could not be written any better!

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