Try to think of a time when you were intensely hopeful. Was your hope tied to other mental variables? Odds are that one of those variables was motivation. When someone or something really gets your hopes up, you can see how this hope transforms into something very powerful. It’s a source of energy you can draw from to get what you want.
In other words, hope in this context acts as an something predisposing you to action. It’s just like how fire heats up anything that comes close. Now we ask: what is it about hope that makes this possible? Well, keep reading and find out!
“Don’t reject your dreams. Without hope, what kind of world would this be?”
-Ramon de Campoamor-
What is hope?
Intuitively, if you think about hope, your definition probably includes positive ideas. In fact, all of us associate it with positive values. It’s something that helps us change and improve as human beings. But it’s not just that. It also helps us grow and improve our quality of life. Plus, it reinforces the kinds of actions that make us feel good.
In other words, hope motivates us to use the means necessary to achieve the object of our desire. It is that initial feeling of expectation, which is then fed by the idea or sense that you’ve hit on something positive. So what does all of that mean? That hope is what stimulates us, and at the same time it is the consequence of the actions we take to achieve our desire.
“Talent is necessary, but without hope you will never get very far.”
-Fernando Trujillo Sanz-
Let’s take a look at an example. Let’s say you feel hopeful when you see an offer for a job you’re interested in. That is the stimulant, the motivator. But it doesn’t stop there. You also feel hopeful while you prepare your resume, and then during your interview. In other words, you also need hope to achieve what you want. Lastly, when you finally get the job (the consequence), that hopeful and excited feeling usually remains.
Ultimately, hope is partly born out of faith, of imagining the possibility of getting what you want. It materializes when you start on the path towards a goal. It is there when you sign a contract that commits you to not give up at the first sign of difficulty, real or imaginary, anticipated or unexpected.
The components of hope
As you’ve seen, hope is a motivator, an answer, and a consequence. But it isn’t just that. Hope has many more elements. Some are related to emotions, most of them positive. That’s why hope is linked to happiness, joy, and also the will to live.
On the other hand, we also associate hope with more cognitive processes, like our thoughts and beliefs. Things like the future and appreciating the little things and relationships with your loved ones fit into this category. Some other examples are self-confidence, having faith and hope in your goals and dreams, and being consistent.
Lastly, going along with the idea that we respond to hope, you see that there are also behavioral elements: how you behave when something excites and motivates you to achieve a specific objective.
The projection of hope
Everything we’ve talked about so far comes down to one key idea. That idea is the importance of hope as a motivator of growth. When you are excited and hopeful about something, you are better able to face the obstacles that may get in your way. Desire keeps you moving and keeps you from feeling paralyzed or losing energy. In other words, hope is empowering.
This is how we are able to keep going in spite of uncertainty. It doesn’t matter if we’re sure we’ll meet our goals. But of course, just like many other parts of your life, you have to find a balance. If you set unachievable goals for yourself, you will just waste your time and feel worse.
“My greatest desire is to keep having hope.”
Let’s explain that a bit more. Say I love to paint, but so far I haven’t invested much time in it or received any formal training. If I decide, at this point, to quit my job and live off my paintings, I will surely fail and end up in bankruptcy.
This will make me feel terrible and less likely to pursue other projects I feel excited about. This is the other side of hope: disillusionment or disappointment. Far from encouraging growth, disappointment makes us more conservative and less likely to act.
That doesn’t mean I will stop dreaming, hoping, and being motivated to become a better person. However, I will make sure that I don’t go overboard. I’ll prioritize one particular desire over more important activities that take time.
Does it make sense now? Finding goals that excite you is important, but make sure they are viable. Otherwise, they will just be a source of constant frustration. If you set reasonable goals, you will see positive consequences and feel more hopeful, instead of less hopeful.
Images courtesy of Marc Olivier Jodoin, Aleksandr Ledogorov y Crak Tibbs.