Opinion: The Amazing Transformational Power of Hope

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Kid Camerik is fighting kidney disease but his wish is to go to Disney World.

By Chris Sichel

So much bad news these days. Come to think of it, so much news period! The pace of our world and the quixotic flow of information often pull our attention to the loudest or most urgent voices.

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As the longtime president of Make-A-Wish San Diego, I’d like to offer a brief interruption this holiday season to this exhausting and seemingly unending cycle of distraction.

There are few things in this world that are always true. Please indulge me as I share just a couple of my favorites:

Hope Is The Most Powerful Force in This World

Sadly, hopelessness is equally as powerful. Where hope is present, the impossible sometimes becomes possible. Where hope exists, illness is often replaced with healing, anger can be supplanted by peace and fear can be exchanged for comfort. Naive you say? Pollyanna-ish?

I used to think so, but after a dozen years at the helm of Make-A-Wish, a place where we grant wishes to children battling critical illnesses, it cannot be denied. After seeing the individual and collective impact of thousands of wishes on kids, their families and their communities, I cannot be convinced otherwise.

Recent studies have shown that a wish, something that surely gives you hope, can reduce depression and anxiety, improve health outcomes and shorten hospital stays. It can also hold a fraying family together. Hope matters, and not just to sick kids.

Whatever You Look for You’ll Find

If you look through a pessimistic lens, if you fill your waking hours with an abundance of negative news and tweets. If you look for what is missing versus what is present, you’ll soon see your cup as half-empty.

Each day, often without realizing it, we are barraged with an unending flow of headlines of sorrow, tragedy, strife, partisanship and anxiety-producing predictions of the future. How do we keep these things from hijacking our days? We simply need to look for the good in this world. It’s out there. In plain sight. Look for the constant acts of kindness around you, or better yet, initiate acts of kindness.

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John Bunyan, author of the classic “Pilgrim’s Progress” once said, “You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” Try doing that today. Look beyond the headlines to see the good that is there: the good in others, in this community and in our world. It’s there — you just have to choose to see it.

Make-A-Wish doesn’t own the trademark on hope. But it is a guiding principal in all that we do, and as a result, we often have a front row seat to joy, healing and peace, all while in the midst of hardship. Where can you give hope? How can you be the difference in the world that you wish to see? Start with looking for the good around you, and where it is lacking, be that good. It’s that simple.

Happy Holidays from all of us at Make-A- Wish.

Chris Sichel is president and CEO of Make-A-Wish San Diego.

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