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Hope is an optimistic attitude of mind based on an expectation of positive outcomes related to events and circumstances in one’s life or the world at large. As a verb, its definitions include: “expect with confidence” and “to cherish a desire with anticipation”.

Dr. Barbara L. Fredrickson argues that hope comes into its own when crisis looms, opening us to new creative possibilities. Frederickson argues that with great need comes an unusually wide range of ideas, as well as such positive emotions as happiness and joy, courage, and empowerment, drawn from four different areas of one’s self: from a cognitive, psychological, social, or physical perspective.

Hopeful people are “like the little engine that could, [because] they keep telling themselves “I think I can, I think I can”. Such positive thinking bears fruit when based on a realistic sense of optimism, not on a naive “false hope”.

The psychologist C.R. Snyder linked hope to the existence of a goal, combined with a determined plan for reaching that goal. (…) Snyder also stressed the link between hope and mental willpower, as well as the need for realistic perception of goals, arguing that the difference between hope and optimism was that the former included practical pathways to an improved future. He also considered that psychotherapy can help focus attention on one’s goals, drawing on tacit knowledge of how to reach them.

Hope appears in ancient Greek mythology with the story of Zeus and Prometheus. Prometheus stole fire from the god Zeus, which infuriated the supreme god. In turn, Zeus created a box that contained all manners of evil, unbeknownst to the receiver of the box. Pandora opened the box after being warned not to, and those evils were released into the world; Hope, which lay at the bottom of the box, remained.

A classic reference to hope which has entered modern language is the concept that “Hope springs eternal” taken from Alexander Pope‘s Essay on Man, the phrase reading “Hope springs eternal in the human breast, Man never is, but always to be blest”. Another popular reference, “Hope is the thing with feathers,” is from a poem by Emily Dickinson.

Hope can be used as an artistic plot device and is often a motivating force for change in dynamic characters. A commonly understood reference from western popular culture is the subtitle “A New Hope” from the original first installment (now considered Episode IV) in the Star Wars science fiction space opera. The subtitle refers to one of the lead characters, Luke Skywalker, who is expected in the future to allow good to triumph over evil within the plot of the films.

The swallow has been a symbol of hope, in Aesop’s fables and numerous other historic literature. It symbolizes hope, in part because it is among the first birds to appear at the end of winter and the start of spring.

Other symbols of hope include the anchor, and the dove.

Hope, on Wikipedia

listening while researching: Deerhunter – Don’t Cry

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