Too often, I find the most underrated tool is the power of hope. The role hope plays, the importance of hope, and the necessity of hope continue to fascinate me as an Industrial and Organizational Psychologist, people-watcher, and person. My goal here is to help those struggling with hope find for themselves the value and power of hope.
What is hope?
Hope is closely linked to trust or a feeling of confidence. Hope has connotations to feelings of expectation, desires for events to occur, and hope closely tied to appetites and passions. We hope for love. We hope for good food when visiting a restaurant. We remain closely tied to hope as a people during election cycles, natural disasters, and academic pursuits. Gamblers, stockbrokers, and first responders use a lot of hope in their daily efforts to maintain mental awareness and positive outlooks.
The role of hope!
Scott Kaufman, writing for Psychology Today, opines on hope to help professional psychologists help patients understand the role of hope. Using the analogy of a car, if the wheels are academic achievement, knowledge, experience, and talent, then the engine is your ability to hope. If you cannot imagine and feel hopeful, the psychological vehicle will not carry you to your destination; heck, it won’t even get you out of the driveway.
Not going to lie or rose tint the topic, hope gets a bad rap. Hope carries a lot of baggage that is unfair, unjust, and false. Hope is a method of thinking, using the principles of agency and agentic action as a power to think differently on the subjects that concern you. Hope involves both will and imagination in understanding where you are going and how you plan to obtain your goals. Hope is often the snowplow on the path to your destination.
Let us be clear, hope is not just a “feel-good emotion,” hope is a dynamic conscious choice that forms the underpinnings of motivation, impetus, and action in a person. Those people possessing hope choose learning goals as methods for growth and development. Those people not possessing hope choose mastery goals which are easier, but if failure happens, they quit instead of pushing on.
Hope can be tied to situational factors and social awareness factors that change the power and role of hope in distinct ways and means. Performance improves the greater the person hopes, which plays significant roles in academics, sports, and professional pursuits. One of the reasons why performance improves before a vacation is that hope of time off changes the chemicals in our brains, and we perceive the work differently. Science is on the side of hope, and hope is powerful!
The power of hope!
“In a recent study, researchers looked at the role of hope among athletes. Athletes had higher levels of hope than non-athletes. Hope also predicted semester GPA over overall GPA and overall self-worth. Among female cross-country athletes, in particular, the state of having hope predicted athletic outcomes beyond training, self-esteem, confidence, and mood.”
Hope powers will, and will is a component that towers above every other measurable emotion, including attitude, self-esteem, self-efficacy, and optimism, to name a few. Hope is a multiplying factor to these other emotional vehicles that help push a person’s mental state to goal achievement.
“Kevin Rand and his colleagues found that hope, but not optimism predicted grades in law school above and beyond LSAT scores and undergraduate grades. Interestingly, LSAT scores were not even a significant predictor of law school GPA. It seems like if you want to predict law school performance, a 12-item measure of hope is more predictive than looking at a person’s LSAT scores!”
Hope has the power to predict success in such a challenging degree program better than the standardized test explicitly designed to indicate success or failure in law school. I cannot help but wonder how many other degree programs would reflect similar results, that hope is more powerful than the standardized tests. Consider the implications that hope could achieve if we taught people how to hope, improve their understanding of hope, and challenge them to put hope to work in their lives.
Ability is important, but hope even trumps ability. With hope, I can learn that which I do not know and want to become skilled at. Without hope, those dreams never have a ladder built to the sky where the dreams reside. Potential is important, but without hope, potential cannot be achieved.
“Hope is the belief things will work, especially when it seems otherwise. It helps you stay calm and peaceful when something less than desirable emerges. Hope believes you will get through it. Hope remembers the times you made it through. Hope teams with faith and believes in the impossible.”
Hope is not a religious action, theme, or tool. Hope is not limited to or restricted by believers but by individuals choosing to hope or not. Hope is the power that is missing in democratic societies worldwide and is one of the first positions that liberal leftists and militant, angry people attack because they refuse hope, and in refusing hope, deny the best of themselves for a façade that is nothing more than water and gluten pressed into toilet paper. Every time they experience failure, these people become angrier and less inclined to hope, building more facades, and losing more of themselves daily.
© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
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