Where do you see the world going?
It’s difficult to look at the many problems that plague society and be optimistic about our future. But it’s a lot easier to be hopeful.
What’s the difference between optimism and hope? The difference is subtle but powerful.
Optimism Vs Hope
“Optimism and hope are not the same. Optimism is the belief that the world is changing for the better; hope is the belief that, together, we can make the world better” — Jonathan Sacks
Optimism can be seen as a positive emotion. A feeling of confidence that something you want will happen. For example, you can be optimistic you’ll get a promotion.
But optimism can be a fickle friend. When things don’t turn out, it can quickly flip into pessimism. If you don’t get promoted, you may even enter a negative thought spiral of unworthiness and insecurity.
Adopting hope, on the other hand, can help you through even the most challenging experiences.
Hope is more steadfast than optimism. It’s an attitude of faith in yourself and the inherent good of others. Choosing to be hopeful gives you strength, regardless of what’s happening in your life and prevents you from not giving up. Having hope is more powerful than being optimistic.
The Power of Hope
“But I know, somehow, that only when it is dark enough can you see the stars.”
― Martin Luther King, Jr.
I’ve always wondered how people in war-torn countries are so resilient. I hear stories of mothers who have lost their husbands and children in a bomb-blast, had to leave their homes to survive, been trafficked across countries, and almost died of starvation on multiple occasions.
How do they not give up?
Life is full of ups and downs. No matter how privileged we are, we will always face challenges. But hope makes us resilient in the darkest of times.
A study by Dr. Valerie Maholmes found that kids who lived in poverty thrived in adulthood if they maintained a hopeful attitude throughout their lives. Despite poor health and limited access to resources, they were able to get a decent education and get stable jobs. Hope allowed them to soldier through difficult circumstances and create a brighter future for themselves.
How to Adopt an Attitude of Hope
Hope comes down to belief in yourself and understanding that the world is made up of good people. It’s easy to internalize the constant negativity the media presents and lose faith in humanity.
But everyone is born noble and regardless of how dier life may appear at times, we will always be able to collectively change our reality for the better.
Here are a few starting points for being more hopeful:
- Look for meaning in challenging moments — have faith that whatever you go through will teach you, help you grow, and ultimately benefit you.
- Listen to the stories of others — seek out meaningful stories from those around you. Hearing others overcome challenges and gaining new perspectives leads to hopefulness.
- Look for the good in others — we are surrounded by kind, pure and loving people. We all have flaws and some people do horrible things. But seeing the positive qualities in others helps connect you to them and restores your hope in humanity.
- Practice gratitude — take a few moments whenever you can to make a mental note of everything you are grateful for. Realizing how much you have going for you helps you feel more positive and hopeful of what is to come.
Being optimistic is a good thing. It’s great to be confident in something. But hope goes deeper and withstands even the most challenging circumstances.
Hope encourages self-belief and brings you inner peace. It motivates you to keep going and lights your way when things go dark. It’s often the last thing you hold on to when everything else is taken away from you. Hope is one of the most powerful things you can possess.
And hope is contagious. The world wants to be hopeful. People want to believe in a brighter future. When you speak with hope, people will listen.
So one more reason to be hopeful is that the more hope you have, the more hope you will inspire in others.