“Every tomorrow has two handles. We can take hold of it with the handle of anxiety or the handle of faith.” – Henry Ward Beecher
God and religion are topics often associated with faith. That sense of security upon believing in something greater than ourselves can be very profound. However, faith is a multi-faceted concept that can also be applied in other areas of our lives and impact us in many ways.
We can have faith in each other – as family, friends and communities – and in our self, and trust in our lives overall.
Personally, it wasn’t until I saw the parallel with trust that I was able to develop faith because it was a concept that felt somewhat abstract – outside of religion. Once I realized that having faith is like developing trust, I could apply it more easily in my life. Having faith in the world is a greater alternative to the stress of ‘white-knuckling it’ through life with worry.
Confidence also goes hand-in-hand with faith. For instance, if we have faith in our abilities, we’re more likely to achieve our goals because we believe we can. We feel confident that things will work out, and if they don’t that we can handle it, which increases our confidence further.
We also thrive when others have faith in us. I see this in my daughter, when I let her do things on her own and trust that she’ll be fine. It seems to inspire her even more to do well. That encouragement that comes with knowing someone believes in you whole-heartedly is priceless.
Studies show that faith can also improve health, healing and reduce the risk of physical problems. David Larson, Former President, National Institute for Healthcare Research indicates, “Belief adds to your ability to handle coping (with stress)…. Catastrophic events can bring on so much stress in your life that you end up with illness… If the situation is reinterpreted…as a situation which deepens my spiritual life, that’s taking the cutting edge off the stress.”
However, it can be challenging to believe in something that isn’t physically tangible or feels unknown. The strong need for control is important to many of us, which is why faith can play such an important role in our lives, if we can learn to let go.
The following are some suggestions for integrating a little more faith in your daily life:
- Be optimistic. Expressing appreciation, forgiveness and having a positive perspective creates more meaningful experiences, making it easier to have greater faith in the world.
- Replace negative thoughts and worry with a prayer or inspiring mantra. Research indicates that practicing a religion or spirituality helps maintain an optimistic focus.
- Trust that you can get through challenges. Recall times where you’ve successfully done it before, and know you can do it again.
- Be open-minded. This allows for new perspectives and possibilities.
- Expect the best. Positive expectations are more likely to create positive outcomes.
- Control less and accept more. We can’t control everything. Learn to let go – control what you can and accept what you can’t.
- Practice faith in one area – a higher power, family, friends, community members, yourself – and increase it as you feel confident.
We can be held back with worry and fear, or have faith and trust that things can be ok, and be propelled forward, a little more each day. “You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” (Martin Luther King Jr., “I Have a Dream,” 1963)