Hallerin started by saying he first spoke to us 30 years and that was the last time he did so.

Hope is a habit.

Habits form through practice. If you want more of it, practice it.

Hallerin moved here 32 years ago from Huntsville, AL. He got a call from someone who offered him a great job. He was offered a job with this man’s company, and he would be consultant for them. They asked him to come there full time, but he was not interested in going to St. Thomas permanently. He asked for what he thought was a salary they wouldn’t give, for a car, for a place to live, and they said they would do all those things. They even offered to pay off all his debts. His mother’s advice: Don’t sell your couch. (You never know what could happen.) He gives away the couch, he and Nedra go. The company kept their promises. They moved in. The radio station was WGOD. He took that as a good omen. Nine days later, Hurricane Hugo hit the island and Hallerin lost everything. They had nothing. They couldn’t even bring back what few things they had. They came back and lived in one room in his sister’s house.

He had $300. He bought a suit and tie. He went to church. Nedra wore his sister’s dress. They bump into a mean, nice lady there. She complimented Nedra’s dress and mentioned that it looked nice on her sister-in-law as well. He rode the bus every day looking for work. He kept saying, “I’m gonna make it.” He had hope: desire accompanied by expectation. He wondered where this hope came from. It was a goodness that stayed with him. It was a reflexive response to his situation.

Rock bottoms are great for understanding 1) if you ever hit one, you find out who you really are, 2) you find out who your real friends are, who really loves you, and 3) you find out who God is. The God who shows up when you hit rock bottom, who gives you a twitch of hope. Rotary is about dispensing hope. The absence of a needed thing is not a crisis; it is a calling. If there is no hope, we would figure out how to produce more hope. His dad used to say, “I’m gonna make it,” all the time. He had resiliency. He told Hallerin his father always said that as well. His grandfather was born in Chattanooga before 1900, and was living under a house at age 6. His father and brother had died and his mother had taken off. He was taken to the Steele Home for Children, and they took care of him. These children had been cast aside. She took care of children of color and handicapped children. She often told the kids, “You’re gonna make it.” He married a woman. They had 7 children. The only thing he could give them was hope. Hallerin’s father gave him hope.

Recommends book Good Habits, Bad Habits, by Dr. Wendy Wood. Check out the Huberman Habits podcast. Most of what we do every day is habit. Even forms of depression are habitual-patterned negative thought. His dad inspired Hallerin differently. Hallerin believes he absence of hope in the world is our calling. People who live with hope are optimists. Pat Summitt told Hallerin that she was glad she had the courage to try to do something she didn’t know to do. (Fix more than you break; give more than you take.) We are to be evangelists for excellence. Change the conversation, change the narrative to hope and to light. We have to do it habitually. What will people believe based on what I say and what I do? Practice hope, because we need it. The beginning of hope circuitry is through gratitude. Start each day by writing 3 things for which you are grateful; 3 things that would make the day great; what can I do to make the day great? (That last one is rooted in agency; that you can have an impact on the quality and outcome of your day.) At the end of the day, write down 3 amazing things that happened to me today, and what could I have done to make today better?

The audience asked several questions.