Counselor's Corner: A decision of hope

By Fred Cavaiani

It is 2011. We are now back into our daily routine. It is a relief for many. The enjoyment of the Holidays has passed and is stored in our happy memory bank. The hectic pace of the holidays has passed into a peaceful oblivion and the routine of our daily lives again is welcomed. We listen to the news reports again. We return to our work. The kids are back in school. We find a certain relief and peace from doing the predictable activities again.

In all of this we hope for better things each New Year for our ourselves, our family, and our country. The hope for better relationships, better jobs, and healthier lives become strong every January. In my practice as a psychologist and marriage counselor, January is usually the busiest month of the year. The hope to have a better life becomes a persistent drumbeat in the minds and hearts of many.

To hope for something is good. To hope for something without a concrete decision to put positive actions into practice is a waste of time. Hope is based on a decision to change our lives for the better. This decision consists of concrete daily actions that we start today.

It is easy to hope. It is more difficult to put hope into practice by concrete decisions.

If I wish to live a healthier life I need to make a decision today to exercise and eat healthy. This decision needs a concrete application. I will spend an hour at the health club today. I need to choose the time I will go there and mobilize my energies to get there at this time. If I need to change my diet I need to choose what food I will eat today and at what time I will eat this food.

Life is difficult for all of us. There is no utopia for anyone. The struggles and tragedies of life are part of every person’s life. It may be a small struggle or big struggle. It can be a small tragedy or big tragedy. It makes no difference. We all experience this on a daily basis. Hope is the decision to embrace what is before us and learn from it. Hope is the decision to live my life in an open and honest manner. Hope is the decision not to violate the 11th commandment – “Thou shalt not deceive or kid or delude thyself.” There is no formal 11th commandment but we all violate this principle by trying to deceive ourselves into having hope but not doing the actions that will allow us to change for the better.

Hope is based on decisions. Often we are afraid of decisions that cause us to change for the better. A decision to take quiet time each day to reflect and listen is putting hope into practice. A decision to eat better today and exercise today is a decision to put hope into practice. A decision to read reflectively is putting hope into practice. A decision to listen carefully to another person is putting hope into practice.

Each of us knows people who have changed their lives by making small, daily important decisions. Every success in life comes from positive decisions. Look at your own personal life and you will discover the truth of these statements. Your own life is a book that is being written on how to have hope. Sometimes we live our lives in a manner that is saying we do not have hope.

Hope is a decision. When I make a positive decision I give myself a chance to have hope for a better future. When I make a decision to embrace a faith, a philosophy of life, a way of life, I give myself a chance to have hope. But this takes a decision to learn, listen and act.

Every person who has chosen to better their own life by actions such as going back to school, making the effort to listen to others, deciding to face inner turmoil and pain, searching for a new job with persistent determination, taking the time to reflect daily, and many other simple daily decisions, will acquire hope for the future. Hope happens when decisions happen. Hope fades when actions disappear.

2011 can be a year of tremendous hope for each of us. It will start today by simple decisions. Have a wonderful week. Have a hope-filled day. Have a decisive day!

Fred Cavaiani is a licensed marriage counselor and psychologist with a private practice in Troy. He is the founder of Marriage Growth Center, a consultant for the Detroit Medical Center, and conducts numerous programs for groups throughout Southeast Michigan. His column in the Legal News runs every other Tuesday. He can be reached at (248)362-3340. His e-mail address is: and his website is


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