Hope is not an emotion, it’s learned through experience

What comes to mind when you think about the word hope? For me, it’s wall art and mugs; “hope” written in cursive, accompanied by words like faith, love, and dream. It is not a positive association. As much as I love to feel inspired, I am not a fan of inspirational décor. It doesn’t suit my taste, and more importantly, I think it dilutes the meaning of words that are actually profound concepts. Reclaiming and connecting with the meaning of the word hope, requires a reintroduction.

Defining Hope

We often say we “feel” hopeful, but hope is not actually an emotion. It…


Stop wasting your efforts and start removing the obstacles to well-being

If your a regular reader of Medium, it may have occurred to you how much people seem to love self-help how-to articles. We are suckers for an interesting story about a clearly defined problem- one that personally resonates with us, and then we want to be told how to solve that problem with actionable steps. We want a quick and dirty list, a step-by-step map to becoming a better/happier/more productive human.

The problem here is that suggesting action, without talking about what is getting in the way, is a half-baked solution. It can feel inspiring, but it is a backward…


Over-reliance on rules is the reason our institutions are failing us.

Wise people speak to us beyond their time, culture, and circumstance. Even though Confucious, Jesus, Socrates, Buddha, and Aristotle have long been dead, they are still some of the most cited examples of wise people. How is it that we are still guided by the minds and hearts of those that lived 2000 years ago? That is a hell of a long time ago….so long that our modern lives, compared to theirs, are like that of another species. What would they say about our polarized culture? How surprised would they be by our failing institutions?

Despite our exponential growth in…


The 7 types of rest that everyone needs

I’m tired, but I don’t need more sleep. Although we think of sleep as the antidote to being tired, this isn’t always the case. We often use the word “tired” to say “I no longer want to endure/deal with that.” We say “tired” when we really mean that we feel fed up, used up, or drained. What we really are is depleted.

Sleep is the ultimate rest, and without it, our ability to function is diminished in all areas, but it is not the only kind of rest that you need.


A personal manifesto holds you accountable to the person you want to be, while also freeing you from others’ expectations of who you should become.

Many of us humans live a life of constant comparison. Sometimes it is beneath our conscious awareness, and other times it’s painfully obvious. We judge our self-worth, success, intelligence, and attractiveness by comparing ourselves to others. This tendency explains why there is a whole website dedicated to photos of socially unacceptable Walmart shoppers- we feel better about ourselves in comparison to them.

Unless you plan to forever surround yourself with people who have less desirable qualities than you, self-worth derived through comparison will never elevate you.


Are you a part of this movement?

Let me introduce to you the idea that we are entering into a wisdom renaissance. Given all that has occurred politically and culturally over the last several years, this may seem like a crazy idea, but I am going to make my case here by pointing to some current cultural trends that are all ultimately aimed at cultivating wisdom.

There is no quick and dirty definition for wisdom. For our purposes now, keep in mind the findings of The Berlin Wisdom Paradigm, which identified these 8 traits of the wise person:

  • They are open to new experiences
  • They are growth-oriented


What Personality Psychology has to teach us about inner growth and crafting a meaningful life

“I was sitting in a taxi, wondering if I had overdressed for the evening when I looked out the window and saw Mom rooting through a dumpster.”

This is the opening sentence of Jeanette Walls's book The Glass Castle. It is a memoir of surviving an unconventional childhood in poverty, and a fascinating look at one person’s experience of creating the narrative that defines who they are.

Personality Psychologist, Dan McAdams says that we all have an “evolving story that integrates a reconstructed past, perceived present, and anticipated future into a coherent and vitalizing life myth.”


Embrace these 2 traits, and move from divisive groupthink to personal truth.

In my work exploring the concept of wisdom, the ability to deal with uncertainty, and living with a sense of curiosity, are often identified as core traits of the wise person. They are also traits that are pervasively lacking in our current culture, and their absence may be fueling our cultural divisiveness.

Let’s start with uncertainty

There are many varieties of uncertainty. You might be uncertain about the future, uncertain about how someone feels about you, or uncertain about what to do with your life. …


Our brains are a filing system. If you’re not continually assessing your files, you may be living under a delusion.

Us vs. Them, Good vs. Bad, Liberal vs. Conservative. In our increasingly polarized world, many of us see things in black and white, blind to all the shades of gray. We are designed to see things this way; our brains have an instinct for categorization. Without this instinct, we could not function, but the brain’s desire to simplify our increasingly complex world is creating division. Black and white thinking is creating delusion.

With a brain that loves black and white, in a world that draws us to its loud extremes, gray is becoming endangered color. We don’t have the time…


The pandemic offers a chance for Post-Traumatic Growth; here is how to seize it.

It is both a popular belief and a research-backed notion that wisdom is gained through experience. The more challenging the experience, the more opportunity for growth.

Situations that push us to the limits of our endurance are called “ultimate limit experiences,” and they can accelerate the development of wisdom. The psychological term for inner growth that springs from stressful experiences is post-traumatic growth.”

These two areas of research overlap, and ultimately come to the same conclusion: The opportunity for growth exists within all crises, but not everyone who goes through a life crisis becomes wise as a result. …

Aimee O'Neil MSW

Curious and compassionate mind explorer, who is working to make wisdom cultivation the next big thing. www.wisdomcultivators.com

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