Hoping against hope (the psychology of hope)

Inspired by the inauguration of Obama today, I’d like to spend some time on the psychology of hope. I know I really should be studying and so on but I could do with some comfort blogging. To start off with, some points and quotes (some taken from here):

1. “To actually change yourself is a slow process and one that is extremely hard and taxing; change, if it is to be significant and long-lasting, is won only at the cost of effort, determination, insight and a great deal of strategy.” (Litlove on Change).

2. Hope is a good breakfast but a bad supper. – Francis Bacon

3. Man is a creature of hope and invention, both of which belie the idea that things cannot be changed.– Tom Clancy

4. One thing I’ve learned from counselling and life is that any incident (however small) has the potential to add to the problem or to the solution. In relationships, it’s often the small things that make the difference. You can choose whether to add fuel to the fire of one or the other.

5. Which brings me in an indirect way to the situation in Israel and Gaza. Of couse it’s an untenable situation that Israel should have to endure cross-border rocket-fire from Hamas militants. But to react in the way that the Israeli government did, which ended up killing so many innocent men, women and children? How does adding more trauma to an already volatile situation create anything but more trauma, more hatred and so on? It’s perhaps easy for me to say this but a radical solution goes to the root of the problem. Peace, justice – they’re intimately connected.

6. The very least you can do in your life is to figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under its roof. — Barbara Kingsolver

7. When you do nothing, you feel overwhelmed and powerless. But when you get involved, you feel the sense of hope and accomplishment that comes from knowing you are working to make things better.–Pauline R. Kezer

8. Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune — without the words,
And never stops at all … (Emily Dickinson)

9. If time and energy permits, I’ll be revisiting hope from a psychodynamic perspective (which is all about relationships). Should make for some interesting cross-pollination.

10. Lastly, what I’m liking about the Obama presidency so far is the emphasis on service, everyone making a difference etc. This is all before the inaugural speech but I found the scenes of him visiting a high school yesterday and giving a boost to usaservice.org quietly moving.


12 Responses to Hoping against hope (the psychology of hope)

  1. Novalis says:

    Hope is a great subject, for psychology, for the arts, for life. I think it was Samuel Johnson who said that remarriage is the triumph of hope over experience. So just as we should “trust, but verify,” we should hope, but wryly.

  2. I think hope is about faith but not blind faith. Blind faith is a bulwark against fear that finds its target in an enemy–very much the situation in the mid-east but also in our neck of the woods. I agree that a radical solution is needed. Standing still is a good start. Listening. A step away from fear into hope, love, compassion.

  3. verbivore says:

    Here’s to hoping FOR hope and more hope!! Today is a wonderful day to support hope, I’m glad you decided to focus on the idea. Now I’m just about to tune in to the inauguration.

  4. Pete says:

    Novalis – Thanks for the quote – very true and quite apt for psychology. I like the idea of verified trust and wry hope!

    Lilian – Thanks for the link and I really like your ideas on this. Fear, hope, love – there’s a wealth of posts right there.

    Verbivore – Hope you enjoyed it! I thought he made a very good speech. It’s so weird looking at him and thinking that this is the most powerful human on earth. I worry that the pressure of power will be too great and that he will get distracted from the glorious ideals. But it’s an excellent place to start – embracing the complexity, with open-eyed hope and a willingness to build partnerships for the greater good.

  5. Litlove says:

    Oh how nice of you to quote me! I was reading those first lines and thinking, my that sounds familiar…. I really liked the Kingsolver quote about living under the roof of hope and not looking at it from a distance. Hope as a verb can have the same underlying NLP message as ‘try’, which is all about not actually doing things. But hope as a noun is a little lifeboat, something to hold onto and to paddle with.

  6. Bee says:

    Pete, I like (so, so much) the way you bring in all of these different things — the quotations, and the political situation in Gaza, and your experiences in counseling and this new path that Obama seems to represent for the U.S. (and hopefully, to some good extent, the world). I just read an email from my mother, who is usually a rather cynical person, and she is so excited and hopeful about our new President!

    I know that many people are advising caution — not wanting to get our hopes too high — but it seems important to actually enjoy this rare buoyance.

  7. Pete says:

    Litlove – That’s interesting re the link to NLP. I like that image of hope as a lifeboat etc. As for the quote, well there are so many good ones from your blog that it’s always a pleasure 😉

    Bee – Glad you liked the connections. I quite liked them too 😉 I think it will be great if all this excitement and energy translates into positive actions. I think it already has. Perhaps one of the advantages of an Obama presidency is that the focus shifts back and forth between what can they (governments) do and what can we do. Funny how this good mood colours almost everything these days.

  8. Dick says:

    Francis Bacon is right on the money!

  9. marem says:

    ! Nice site
    Wonderful review. But then I always enjoy your reviews!
    there is nothing in the world I enjoy more than learning. In fact, i’d rather be learning now!

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