Tao of Inner Peace Newsletter
Diane Dreher Coaching & Consulting, LLC
Seasonal Newsletter: Autumn 2021
Rediscovering Hope in this New Season
Each fall, the change of seasons brings cooler weather, colorful autumn leaves, and a sense of renewed energy. Yet this year, after endless COVID-19 challenges, many of us are feeling exhausted, depleted, even hopeless.

If you’ve been feeling this way, you’re not alone. A New York Times article predicted that “languishing may be the dominant emotion of 2021” (Grant, 2021). Research reveals alarming rates of depression and anxiety worldwide (Nochaiwong et al, 2021). 84% of American adults are experiencing prolonged stress and 40% have had symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder (American Psychiatric Association, 2021; Panchal et al, 2021).
Yet a dedicated group of researchers and educators have developed a powerful new way to help us restore our hope, combining stress management with positive emotions and inspired action. They’ve adopted the sunflower as the symbol of hope because as it grows, it turns toward the sun. Like the sunflower, we can turn toward the light of hope by using these five steps.
1. Stress Skills. Restoring hope begins by managing chronic stress. When we’re feeling fearful, angry, and anxious, we can get stuck in the survival mode of fight, flight, or freeze that these researchers call the “Downstairs Brain.” Chronic stress can drag us down, undermining our health with headaches, insomnia, digestive disturbances, anxiety, depression, chronic fatigue, and other problems. Chronic stress can also impair our judgement, undermining our ability to solve our problems. But we can calm ourselves and return to a hopeful mindset with stress skills that include: taking a 90-second pause, breathing slowly and deeply, exercising, connecting with nature, talking to a friend, or listening to calming music. These strategies help us get back into our higher brain regions, or “Upstairs Brain” where we feel more hopeful and can see new possibilities.

2. Happiness Habits. Cultivating more positive emotions can help us spend more time in our “Upstairs Brain,” building our hopeful mindset, increasing our energy and resilience. Some happiness habits include: having a positive morning routine, eating healthy food, getting regular exercise, playing a musical instrument, practicing kindness, expressing gratitude, and spending time with friends. What happiness habits can you add to your daily life?

3. Inspired Action. Setting meaningful goals gives our lives meaning and direction, something to look forward to each day. SMART goals—Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound—can be a positive strategy. Set a specific goal, a date you want to achieve it, and break it into small, manageable steps. For each step, think of an alternative in case that step doesn’t work. Then visualize yourself taking these steps, feeling inspired and energized as you see yourself reaching your goal (Feldman & Dreher, 2012).

4. Hope Network. Building a hopeful mindset involves teamwork, sharing our goals, successes, setbacks, and insights with a supportive community of people who care about us. Who is on your hope team? Your best friend? A wise mentor? A trusted family member? A supportive teacher, doctor, therapist, faith leader, counselor, or coach? Cultivate your hope network by reaching out with acts of kindness, recognition, and gratitude. Your hope network, like plants in your garden, needs cultivation in order to flourish.

5. Overcoming Hope Challenges. Some habits can drag you down into hopelessness. These include worry, rumination, limiting beliefs, and a negative inner voice that says, “You’re not good enough.” To overcome these hope challenges, you can draw upon your stress skills, happiness habits, inspired actions, and hope network. What is one hope challenge for you and what can you do about it?

These five steps can be transformational, helping us move forward in life with greater energy, confidence, and determination. They are central to the hope programs developed by the International Foundation for Research and Education on Depression (iFred), which includes a new Hopeful Mindsets program for college students, a Hopeful Minds curriculum for elementary school students, and a Hopeful Cities program to help build more hopeful communities.

In this golden season of autumn, how can you use these 5 steps to bring greater hope to your life and increase the light of hope in our world?


American Psychiatric Association. (2021, February 2). U.S. adults report highest stress level since early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2021/02/adults-stress-pandemic

Bickel, N.B. (2021, February 25). Anxiety, depression reached record levels among college students last fall. Michigan News. University of Minnesota Healthy Minds Study. https://news.umich.edu/anxiety-depression-reached-record-levels-among-college-students-last-fall/
Feldman, D. B. and Dreher, D. E. (2012). Can hope be changed in 90 minutes? Testing the efficacy of a single-session goal-pursuit intervention for college students. Journal of Happiness Studies, 13, 745-759.
Grant, A. (2021, April 22). There’s a name for the blah you’re feeling: It’s called languishing. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/19/well/mind/covid-mental-health-languishing.html
Hopeful Mindsets, Hopeful Minds, and Hopeful Cities information can be found at https://hopefulmindsets.com/about-hopeful-mindsets/, https://hopefulminds.org/, and https://hopefulcities.org/know-the-five-keys/
Nochaiwong, S., Ruengorn, C., Thavorn, K. et al. (2021). Global prevalence of mental health issues among the general population during the coronavirus disease-2019 pandemic: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Scientific Reports, 11, 10173. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-89700-8
Panchal, N., Kamal, R., Cox, C. & Garfield, R. (2021, Feb 10). The implications of COVID-19 for mental health and substance use.Kaiser Family Foundation. https://www.kff.org/coronavirus-covid-19/issue-brief/the-implications-of-covid-19-for-mental-health-and-substance-use/
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About Diane
I am a positive psychology coach, researcher, and best-selling author. My books include The Tao of Inner PeaceThe Tao of Personal LeadershipThe Tao of WomanhoodInner Gardening: A Seasonal Path to Inner Peace, and Your Personal Renaissance: 12 Steps to Finding Your Life’s True Calling.

My coaching uses the latest research in positive psychology, mindful listening, powerful questions, and other creative techniques to help people like you overcome roadblocks, achieve your goals, and discover greater joy and meaning in life.  MORE
I am an Professional Certified Coach (PCC) and a member of the International Coaching Federation (ICF) a leading global organization dedicated to advancing the coaching profession by setting high standards, providing independent certification and building a worldwide network of trained coaching professionals. 
I am also a Certified MentorCoach (CMC) with the internationally recognized coach training community MentorCoach LLC.
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Diane Dreher, PhD, PCC, CMC
Diane Dreher Coaching & Consulting, LLC
© Diane Dreher 2021