Stories about people who have overcome incredible odds to make a difference or achieve a dream abound throughout history. It is important to have goals and dreams, but what do you do when the going gets tough? It is important to model a positive attitude, seek solutions to problems, and keep moving toward your goal.
Studies show when people envision themselves reaching their goals, they are more likely to make them happen.
Research shows that young people who are optimistic about the future have better relationships with their parents, increased self-esteem, and decreased emotional or behavioral problems, such as depression, early sexual activity, and violence.
About 71 percent of Warren County young people are optimistic about their personal future, according to our most recent Profiles of Student Life survey. Since young people are our future adults, it is important to help them realize the positive aspects of their lives now and in the years to come.
Having a sense of hope is one of the most important human traits to embrace. Everyone faces ups and downs in life. But it is important to teach young people that a bad day, failed test, break-up, or loss of a loved one does not mean the future is without hope. When bad things happen or mistakes occur, help young people focus on solutions or positive aspects of the situation instead of problems.
In your home: clip articles from newspapers or magazines of people doing hopeful things. Post them so the entire family sees them.
In your community: talk to neighbors about your concerns. Gather a group to address these concerns and create a better future for everyone who lives nearby. Young people who live in a safe, clean, friendly neighborhood are more likely to feel positive about their future.
In your school or youth program: react positively when young people tell you their dreams-no matter how far-fetched or unreachable they may seem. Together, figure out a plan to make their dreams come true.
Ian Eastman, M.A., coordinates Healthy Communities-Healthy Youth of Warren County on behalf of Family Services.