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The Secret of Life: The Fourth Secret

Updated on January 30, 2013

A REVIEW OF THE FIRST THREE SECRETS

And so it was decided by this solitary writer, sitting in his writing studio in Olympia, Washington, that there are certain secrets of life and happiness that all contented and fulfilled people share. I did not discover these truths while on a reflective vision quest in the Arctic, nor did they appear to me in a dream. They are the result of sixty-four years of stumbling along on this planet and observing this creature called man.

The first secret is, of course, love, and it is of equal measure a love of ourselves and a love of others.

The second secret is to have purpose and productivity in life, and the third secret is to be accepting of ourselves, others, and also accepting of the fact that we cannot control everything in our lives.

Finally that brings us to the fourth secret of life, a quality that is unique to mankind.

The hope of an innocent
The hope of an innocent | Source

HOPE

Take a moment and try to imagine not having hope of any kind. For most of you reading this, that is an impossible task, for in truth most of us are hopeful from the first time we form an intelligent thought to the time we lay on our final resting place and see that hope can no longer be considered.

What are we hopeful for? How much time do you have? We are hopeful of a better life. We are hopeful for happiness and love, and we are hopeful for a great paying job and adulation and respect. Our hopes are as mundane as the hope for a cold beer after work and they are as complicated and lofty as our hope for world peace.

We are told that to hope is to wish for something with an expectation of fulfillment, and practically all of us have experienced hope during our lifetime.

I remember talking to a high school buddy of mine about ten years after we had graduated. I ran into him in downtown Tacoma, and we spent a few minutes catching up on the ten years that had passed, and then we talked about what we were doing then and what we were hoping for in the future.

His words have stayed with me for over thirty years. He told me he had no hope for the future, that his life had turned to shit and he saw no point in hoping for something that would never happen.

He killed himself two years after our meeting. He drove his car to a neighborhood park and blew his brains out while listening to the Moody Blues.

Again, try to imagine not having hope of any kind.

I have known five people during my lifetime who committed suicide. I have thought of them often and I still, to this day, cannot understand being them at that moment when they ended their life. Such is the strength of hope in my life that I cannot conceive of being in such a dark place emotionally that there is no hope. I came close six years ago while in the throes of alcoholism, but still there was a sliver of hope that led me to call a friend and ask for help. Darkness the likes of which I have never known but still, a sliver of hope could be seen by my alcohol-blurred eyes.

UNIQUE AMONG SPECIES

No other species on this planet hopes. Hope requires wishing and a concept of expectations, and it requires a belief system that is not experienced by any other living organism. Perhaps, too, it requires faith. No, not a faith in the supernatural or divine, but a faith in the natural order of life, that if these things are done then these things are likely to happen. It rejects the Chaos Theory and embraces the sublime joy of order.

Yes, we were taught by Pavlov’s dogs that there is a certain expectation of reward if a bell is rung, but there is certainly no act of wishing involved. It is response to stimuli, pure and simple, and most definitely does not require wishing to proceed.

SO WHY DO SOME HOPE WHILE OTHERS REJECT HOPE?

It’s an interesting question is it not? What is there about some people that leads them to give up all hope, while others, living in the most horrendous of circumstance, still manage to hold onto hope?

I have known people who have lived in abject poverty, many days not even able to find food to eat, and yet they had hope for the future, while others, like my friend already mentioned, who seemed to have it all in the way of possessions, had no hope at all and chose to end their lives.

I suspect the difference is found in our DNA and it is as simple as that. I can think of no other explanation. Some can only see darkness in a room full of light, while others see the slightest ray of light in the darkest of circumstances.

I have heard some tell me that there is always hope, and yet I have seen proof that for some people that is not true, for what we believe has a way of becoming our reality despite all proof to the contrary. If we do not believe there is hope then there is none.

Hope, then, is a purely subjective characteristic.

HOW, THEN, DO WE FIND HOPE?

Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.
Vaclav Havel

I love that quote by Havel. Hope is the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out. All well and good, but how do we find that hope? Where does it come from?

It seems to me that we manufacturer our own hope. It may be as simple as finding hope in the birth of our children. Millions of people found hope in the birth of a child over two thousand years ago, and they continue to find hope in that same child after his death. There is no logic behind it; it just is, a hope based on faith and as individual as our genetic building blocks.

It also seems to me that we must be willing to allow hope into our lives. An analogy would be the glass half full or glass half empty. We believe what we choose to believe, so can hope be any different? If we choose to have hope we will have it, and the opposite is true as well.

These are not absolute statements on my part but rather musings about a very complicated topic. Of course there are those with psychiatric problems, or medical problems such as clinical depression, who may not be able to manufacture hope. However, for most of us who do not have such problems, hope is within our reach if we are willing to reach out to grasp it.

A moment with Bill

FINAL THOUGHTS

The secret of life, and by extension happiness, is really as simple or as complicated as we choose to make it. Look at the characteristics that are unique to mankind. To be without one or more of those characteristics is to deny a part of your humanness and thus to deny ourselves of the complete experience.

Love…..productivity or purpose….acceptance….hope….and more to come in the next part of this series.

2013 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

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    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 4 years ago from New York, New York

      Hope truly is a wonderful thing to have and I do try daily to have just a bit of this to go around!! I love this series and can't get enough of it. Thanks seriously Bill and hope you are having a wonderful day!! Have of course voted way up and shared, too!!

    • prasonline profile image

      Prasanna Marlin 4 years ago from Sri lanka

      Excellent article. Very Interesting!

      Thanks for sharing this! Voted up

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Janine, you are so sweet. I'm glad you like this series. Just me rambling on about life. :) Thank you so much!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you prasonline; I appreciate you stopping by for a visit.

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      We need to hold on to hope...and mixing with negative people does cause one to lose it!! Too true!!

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 4 years ago from Arizona

      this hope thing is what keeps us together. I cannot imagine not having it. I also have known people who have taken their lives. A permanent solution for a temporary problem. What a waste. I think people who do this feel no joy in life...no matter what. So Bill we keep putting one foot in front of the other and love, hope, pray and eat...or something like that.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 4 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      That danged tug of war between being totally free from despair and staying in the midst to be a light for others. I have found my strongest and most enduring hope is the one I have for others.

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Very well put, indeed, Mr. Holland. To have hope....to not have hope....it IS the mystery you suggest. I'm inclined to understand it as you have expressed it...and as I read, my mind was busy. I thought about some vital moments where I clung to hope with all my might. A little light bulb went on and I came to a realization, that made me half-smile......It doesn't hurt in the least, to be a really" stubborn" & determined person either....does it.

      If we could be granted just one minute of time, to intervene between a friend and despair....we know it could have made the difference. Our sadness when we lose someone to suicide, is only magnified as we regret not being given that opportunity. For when we are those who hold onto hope, we truly want to share it........UP+++

    • Curiad profile image

      Mark G Weller 4 years ago from Lake Charles, LA.

      Sharing this hope for the future is one of the simplest things we can do for those in need. But even being a simple thing in concept, can be a hard thing to do.

      mark

    • onegreenparachute profile image

      Carol 4 years ago from Greenwood, B.C., Canada

      That little spark of hope is what has saved me over the years. My friend lost his spark and he has gone on. While thinking about him this morning I realized he not only lost hope but lost any love for himself.

      Thanks for this Bill.....voted up and awesome and shared.

    • Kathryn Stratford profile image

      Kathryn 4 years ago from Manchester, Connecticut

      Wow, another beautiful hub! I know that whenever I read your article, it will be thought-provoking. Well done.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Good point MIchelle! Once we lose hope we have lost everything. Thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Carol, I know of no other way to approach life...one foot in front of the other and just plow through whatever obstacles are in the way. :) Thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Interesting, Eric! I'll have to think on that a bit. Thank you for the food for thought.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Wow, Paula, great comment, and I mean that sincerely. No, I don't think it hurts to be stubborn and determined, as long as no harm is done to others. I am as determined as anyone you will meet, and I have been known to have my stubborn side, and those two qualities have gotten me through some rather unpleasant moments. :) Yes my dear, we do want to share that hope....if only we can find a way.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Mark, without a doubt what you say is true. You are a walking, talking example of hope and determination for me, buddy, so thank you.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      onegreenparachute, perhaps they go hand in hand...hope and self-love. I tend to believe that they do. Thank you my friend.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Kathryn! Can you imagine this little old guy siting in his room, pounding on the keys, hoping to make people think? LOL I'm just a curious guy who has a lot of time to think, so I toss this stuff out there and see if any of you find it interesting. I'm very happy that you do.

    • Hendrika profile image

      Hendrika 4 years ago from Pretoria, South Africa

      Hope can be pretty illusive for some. You are right though that most of us do hope above hope. Just sometimes that hope seems to be a little less than at other times

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 4 years ago from Central Florida

      Bill, I'm not so sure that I agree with you that HOPE is entwined in our DNA. I think hope is something that comes from the heart. That can mean conditioning, it can mean rebelling against what has been life as we know it. I think HOPE comes from the soul and I don't think that is subjected to our genes. I think it has to do with faith and a belief in better things, better attitudes and better actions. It may have to do with belief in God and it may not, but I don't think genes have anything to do with HOPE. That comes from the heart. The geneological makeup of the human heart has no component for the entry of the soul. That comes from spirit and that is something we humans feed in order to grow. Those who do not feed their souls may never know HOPE.

    • Kathryn Stratford profile image

      Kathryn 4 years ago from Manchester, Connecticut

      Hope is not only for the religious.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Kathryn, true words and thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sha, that's why I throw this stuff out there, to find out how people think. I understand what you are saying and I thank you for your opinion. I don't agree but I thank you. LOL

      love,

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Hendrika, it can indeed be in short supply, and I totally understand when that is the case. As long as there is a glimmer of hope then there is something worth fighting for. Thank you again for your visit.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 4 years ago from sunny Florida

      Hope has been a driving force in my life and the lives of my daughter and grandson for as long as I can remember. It has carried us up out of the dark places that we otherwise may have been sucked down into.

      Without hope a life would be so empty and such a lonely place. You said several times to imagine life without hope. I can't. Even though I know some who have been hopeless it is out of my realm of understanding.

      As you also say these are not absolutes but your thoughts...however, mixed in and amongst them are some of the key elements that really are the secrets to life and living a full filled life.

      Sending you more of the Angels, my dear Friend....have a lovely evening on this 30th day of our new year...:) ps

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 4 years ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks for lifting our focus to the essential issue of hope. I love the Vaclav Havel quote. Very insightful!

    • mperrottet profile image

      Margaret Perrottet 4 years ago from Pennsauken, NJ

      You're so right that having hope is one of the secrets of life. It's sure pulled me through some very rough times. My hope was always based on a simple fact that I find is always true - nothing stays the same in your life. Things (including yourself) are always changing. During bad times, I've always come through by thinking "this can't last forever". Perhaps those that lose hope think that whatever torture they're experiencing will just continue forever. I love this series - voted up!

    • Melovy profile image

      Yvonne Spence 4 years ago from UK

      Very interesting hub Bill. I like Havel's definition, and haven't heard of him before, so thank you for that introduction! Having certainty that something makes sense, no matter the outcome is sometimes the only way to way to cope with life's experiences, and I definitely find that if I can see this then almost situation is cope-able with.

      Regarding your discussion with Bravewarrior on DNA: scientists have recently discovered that DNA markers are not fixed, that the coding can be turned on or off depending on the environment. (I'm no scientist so I don't totally understand the ins and outs of this, but to me it's very exciting and means that we are not slaves to our DNA.)

    • mpropp profile image

      Melissa Propp 4 years ago from Minnesota

      Beautifully expressed and I agree wholeheartedly. Hope, Faith and Love--all pretty darn essential in my own opinion. Its hard for me to imagine being in such a dark place that you can't find hope....but sadly, as you pointed out, it happens.

    • Amy Becherer profile image

      Amy Becherer 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      I don't think it's coincidental that so many of our returning veterans are committing suicide. The latest figures I heard were that more veterans that returned home from the middle east died from suicide than war casualties today. Many are returning home to lost marriages, no jobs and in this economy, little help with mental illnesses incurred during their tour of duty. Suicides are the ultimate loss of all hope. Genetics that pass on clinical depression and a propensity toward addictions play a part in hopelessness. I believe our individual reactions to stress can deplete our adrenal glands, in addition to our brain chemicals that allow pleasure creating an overwhelming sense of hopelessness.

      Many equate faith, hope and love with religion. I do not. My brother is a PhD microbiologist, a scientist among many who pragmatically believe in only what they see. Yet, he forges on in his field of research, day after day, with enthusiam, because of his hope in curing the diseases that plague humanity. He has a purpose he believes in, work and a family that he loves, and the knowledge that he makes a difference in the world.

      Fabulous reading, Bill, that gives credence to the slippery slope of hope. Brilliantly meaningful writing on a 'difficult to pin down', important dynamic that is vital to the will to survive. You nailed it, my friend.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you MsDora. It is so important to have hope. I can't imagine not having it now that I have found an easier, more gentle way to live my life.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Hey Melissa, good to see you again my dear. Six years ago I was almost in that dark place of hopelessness; now, it's hard to imagine. :) Thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      PS, you said it more eloquently than I did. I love to write hubs like this one because the comments are fascinating. I learn from the comments and that is very cool.

      Thank you as always; I will keep those angels well fed and safe from harm....or maybe it's the other way around. :)

      blessings and hugs coming your way

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      mperrottet, nicely stated my friend. I had a friend who told me if you are going through hell just keep on going and don't stop to enjoy the scenery. :) Thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Yvonne, that is fascinating about the DNA. I had not heard of that but I will have to do some research on it now. Thank you for that and thank you for the visit. You are always welcome here.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Amy! As usual you have added a great comment that is food for thought. Yes, I have a problem with the religion tie in, only because atheists are totally capable of hope. I understand the premise but I'm not buying it.

      As for the veterans....it is shameful and I wish I could snap my fingers and make it all better. To serve your country only to come home to a hopeless situation is beyond my comprehension.

      Take care my friend; thank you for always being here, and thank you for your passion and compassion.

      love,

      bill

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      A wonderful series. This is more than what even Peale could hope for. Your musings are intricately woven together. Awesome and up.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Awww, Deb, thank you! I can only hope to be that good some day. :)

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 4 years ago from Southern Illinois

      I can't imagine a life without hope, although i have had my low ebbs, there was always a spark of hope that managed to peek through. Just think what we would be without hope. All of the great inventions were products of hope. I know there are those living in poverty today that find it difficult to hope, but i have also known people who were the poorest of poor that still looked for a better tomorrow. That's what makes hope so wonderful. Thank you Bill..Love this series..Cheers

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Ruby, I am inspired to write because of people like you. Thank you very much. Like you, I don't even want to think of a life without hope. :) Blessings to you my friend.

    • lrc7815 profile image

      Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

      Kindred, I am late and see that I hae a lot of catching up to do. :-)

      This piece is exquisite; one of the most beautiful you've written. I had already enjoyed this series but this was the icing on the cake. Decadent, sweet, rich. Today, you found IT again.

      Love ya!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Linda....decadent...sweet....rich....wow, you just want to devour it! I love it. You must be a writer to turn a phrase like that. :) Thank you, Kindred! Be well and be happy.

      love,

      bill

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 4 years ago

      Phew.. this was a moving hub. Without hope we have nothing...Some days it's harder to remember that than others. Great hub!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Glimmer, you are on one of your rolls again. Thank you and yes, most definitely, some days are harder.

    • ImKarn23 profile image

      Karen Silverman 4 years ago

      it is sad to think that you're contention that hope - or hopelessness - is in the DNA...

      Now - that's enough to make one lose hope..

      to know 5 people who have committed suicide is...crazy. You made me think about whether i knew anyone, and - i could only think of one..

      A beautiful young woman from the Ukraine...married, 2 children - and terribly depressed..

      They were straight from the 'old country' and psychotherapy probably wasn't on the table - for whatever reason..

      her children found her hanging in a closet when they came home from school one day - i could NEVER understand how she could allow that...

      i still can't..

      i have always felt hopeful - after all - tomorrow is a brand new day!

      Loved this series, Bill - YOU da MAN!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Leslie, I know some people will disagree with me on this, but I think suicide is an incredibly selfish way to check out of life. The sorrow that you leave behind.....I just don't get it. I know I should feel differently but I don't.

      Thank you my friend; have a great weekend.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Hope is what keeps us moving forward and optimistic. I think you said it well when you wrote we have to reach within us for hope. So many people need to hear this positive message. There is always hope. Thanks, Bill, for the inspiration today.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Dianna, thank you! I hope one person who needs this will read it. :)

    • Jamie Brock profile image

      Jamie Brock 4 years ago from Texas

      Bill, I'm sorry to hear of your friend taking his own life.. He had to have been in such a dark place. I really feel that people who get SO hopeless to do something SO drastic, it must be a true chemical imbalance, a very deep depression that they just can not see any way out. Thank you for sharing this.... I so grateful to have hope :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Jamie, thank you so much. I do not understand it, and I tend to believe that you are right. There has to be a medical reason to have a complete absence of hope.

    • Deborah Brooks profile image

      Deborah Brooks Langford 4 years ago from Brownsville,TX

      Bill I love your hubes they are so caring about your fellow human being and I want to thank you for having such a caring heart my friend

      your hubs are full of Love…..productivity or...purpose….acceptance….hope

      many blessings

      Debbie

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Debbie, that is a lovely thing for you to say. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

      blessings to you and yours,

      bill

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