From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Hope is a belief in a positive outcome related to events and circumstances in one's life. Hope implies a certain amount of perseverance — i.e., believing that a positive outcome is possible even when there is some evidence to the contrary. Beyond the basic definition, usage of the term hope follows some basic patterns which distinguish its usage from related terms:
- Hope as an emotion produces a motivation to act. For example, if one has hope a bus driver will wait for them, that person may be motivated to run towards it; but if the bus begins to pull away and the person loses hope they can catch that bus, they lose motivation and stop running. Similarly, if standing at a bus stop hopeful a bus is soon forthcoming, one may be motivated to remain at the stop. If that one loses hope that a bus will come shortly, that person might lose motivation to stay waiting and might try to hail a taxi or just walk.
- Hopefulness is somewhat different from optimism in that hope is an emotional state, whereas optimism is a conclusion reached through a deliberate thought pattern that leads to a positive attitude. But hope and optimism both can be based in unrealistic belief, or fantasy.
- Hope is often the result of faith in that while hope is an emotion, faith carries a divinely inspired and informed form of positive belief. Hope is typically contrasted with despair, but despair may also refer to a crisis of faith. Hence, when used in a religious context, hope carries a connotation being aware of spiritual truth. (In some religions, despair itself is considered to be a sin; see Hope (virtue)).
- In Catholic theology, hope is one of the three theological virtues (faith, hope, and charity), which are spiritual gifts of God. In contrast to the above, it is not a physical emotion but a spiritual grace.
- Hope is distinct from positive thinking, which refers to a therapeutic or systematic process used in psychology for reversing pessimism.
- The term false hope refers to a hope based entirely around a fantasy or an extremely unlikely outcome.
Hope was personified in Greek mythology as Elpis. When Pandora opened Pandora's Box, she let out all the evils except one: hope. Apparently, the Greeks considered hope to be as dangerous as all the world's evils. But without hope to accompany all their troubles, humanity was filled with despair. It was a great relief when Pandora revisited her box and let out hope as well. It may be worthy to note that in the story, hope is represented as weakly leaving the box but is in effect far more potent than any of the major evils.
Hope is passive in the sense of a wish or a prayer - or active as a plan or idea, often against popular belief, with persistent, personal action to execute the plan or prove the idea. Consider a prisoner of war who never gives up hope for escape and, against the odds, plans and accomplishes this. By contrast, consider another prisoner who simply wishes or prays for freedom, or another who gives up all hope of freedom.
Martin Seligman in his book Learned Optimism strongly criticizes the role of churches in the promotion of the idea that the individual has little chance or hope of affecting his or her life. He acknowledges that the social and cultural conditions, such as serfdom and the caste system weighed heavily against the freedom of individuals to change the social circumstances of their lives. Almost as if to avoid the criticism, in his book What You Can Change and What You Can't, he is careful to outline the extent that people can hold out hope for personal action to change some of the things that affect their lives.
- Hope. Pandora brought the jar with the evils and opened it. It was the gods' gift to man, on the outside a beautiful, enticing gift, called the "lucky jar." Then all the evils, those lively, winged beings, flew out of it. Since that time, they roam around and do harm to men by day and night. One single evil had not yet slipped out of the jar. As Zeus had wished, Pandora slammed the top down and it remained inside. So now man has the lucky jar in his house forever and thinks the world of the treasure. It is at his service; he reaches for it when he fancies it. For he does not know that that jar which Pandora brought was the jar of evils, and he takes the remaining evil for the greatest worldly good--it is hope, for Zeus did not want man to throw his life away, no matter how much the other evils might torment him, but rather to go on letting himself be tormented anew. To that end, he gives man hope. In truth, it is the most evil of evils because it prolongs man's torment.
In contrast, William James strongly promoted the idea that prayer had a strong, positive effect for personal good in people’s lives.