On a visit to NYC’s Rubin Museum, we found A Monument for the Anxious and Hopeful, a remarkable expanse of wall divided in two. On one half of the wall hung handwritten cards on which visitors named their anxieties. On the other half, were cards displaying hopes. As we read them, we experienced a very intimate view of the anxieties and fears human beings privately experience daily, and an encompassing feeling of connectedness and compassion. The expressions of hopefulness palpably antidoted the anxieties, serving as a reminder of the powerful good that exists amidst all the difficulty.
Artist Candy Chang and writer James A. Reeves have written that the installation was by inspired by Tibetan prayer flags and the anonymity of public spaces:
Anxiety and hope are often defined by a moment that has yet to arrive. How often do we memorialize our hopes and anxieties and consider their relationship to the future?
The cards did indeed feel like prayer flags.
There was something cathartic about the writing and displaying of anxieties and hopes. We realized it might be a useful personal practice on any given day, perhaps by writing them in a notebook.
But what do you do once you’ve done that? What’s next?
Perhaps try the strategy NYU professor of psychology Gabriele Oettingen created. WOOP (wish, outcome, obstacle, plan) is “a way to make aspirations for the future a reality, and to overcome the obstacles that you perceive to lie in your path.” You visualize the answers to four questions:
What is your wish?
What is your most favorable outcome?
What are your obstacles?
Make a plan.