The Power of Hope

By Hannah Aslin – MAC

verified by Psychology Today

Hope. This word holds different meanings in different spaces for different people. What is hope and what does it mean?

According to Charles Snyder, hope is “a positive cognitive state based on a sense of successful goal-directed determination and planning to meet these goals”.

In other words, hope is a glimpse into a person’s goal-directed thinking, highlighting the motivation behind the pursuit of goals and change, and the expectation that these goals and ultimate change are achievable. Hope has been compared to a “rainbow of the mind” due to its ability to make us think about all of the possibilities and lift our spirits. For this reason, hope is a vital piece of positive psychology and can be considered a catalyst for change in our lives.

While some conceptualize hope as part of the realm of being, it is even more important to emphasize the relevance that hope has in the realm of doing – which relates to the capacity to achieve goals and attain change. Instead of fading completely in the face of adversity, hope often endures, even during the most difficult times, which leads us down a road that allows a more optimistic outlook even in the most challenging of times. Holding on to hope can change your mindset and foster an increased ability to achieve goals and attain a change in our lives. In accordance with this, there are obviously great benefits to having hope. Here are just a few.

  • Hope is strongly correlated with academic and athletic performance, physical and psychological well-being, improved self-esteem, and enhanced interpersonal relationships
  • Hope holds the potential to enhance overall well-being over time
  • People with high hope are more likely to view stressful situations as challenging as opposed to threatening which reduces the intensity of stress
  • Hope is a type of protective factor against developing chronic anxiety
  • Hope is a motivational factor that helps to initiate and sustain action toward long-term goals and change
  • Hope is strongly related to overall life satisfaction
  • Hope motivates individuals to maintain their positive involvement in life regardless of any limitations imposed upon them

So, you may be thinking, “what does this have to do with change?”.

When we are hopeful and have hope that things and people (including ourselves) have the ability to grow, change, and maintain that change, we are then intrinsically motivated to set goals and act on them in order to achieve those goals and reinforce that hope and optimism. In short, having hope and holding a more optimistic view of not only ourselves but also others and the world as a whole, acts as a motivator for us to reach our goals and make positive changes in our lives.

The take-home message is that hope is more than just a state of mind and it should be looked at as a personal strength. Hope allows us a resource for motivation to pursue our goals and change and gives us the optimism and resilience to pick ourselves up when things don’t go as planned. Hope and change go hand-in-hand. Hope brings about optimism and motivation to reach goals and make/maintain positive change in our lives. Stay hopeful, my friends!


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