Describing Hope

Describing Hope

Hope is a positive cognitive state based on determination and planning to meet a goal successfully. It consists of three things:

  • Goals thinking : the ability to create goals.
  • Pathways thinking : the capacity to plan specific strategies to reach those goals.
  • Agency thinking : the ability to stay motivated for using those strategies.

According to psychologist Charles Snyder, hope is in the context of doing (the capacity to achieve goals), not in the realm of being.

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  • Hope correlates with high academic and athletic performance, greater physical and psychological well-being, better self-esteem, and increased relationships.
  • Hope can enhance well-being over time.
  • Hope results in the person viewing stressful situations as a challenge rather than a threat.
  • Hope can be seen as creating a buffer against chronic anxiety.
  • Hope is a motivational factor that sustains actions toward long-term goals.
  • Hope is positively related to overall life satisfaction.
  • Hope motivates individuals to maintain their positive involvement in life despite any limitations they may have.
  • Hope and optimism. Optimism is a positive attitude about a future event that is probable while being hopeful is more realistic. A hopeful individual recognizes that life may work out differently, but continues to remain positive.
  • A potential pitfall of hope is that people can repeatedly fail to change aspects of their behavior, leading to a cycle of failure characterized by unrealistic expectations.
  • Hope is not the same as wishful thinking. Wishful thinking does not involve any plan on how to accomplish change, while hope involves a commitment to seeking future outcomes.
  • Desire and hope. Desire is more open-ended and less directed than hope. Hope can evoke a future-oriented willingness to achieve a goal.
  • The biggest enemy of hope is an inability to affect the kind of change people desire in their lives.

With hope therapy, instead of dwelling on the unpleasant factors, it incorporates positive self-talking, thinking of the future in a more positive way, and connections with supportive networks.

Historically, psychology tried to treat mental illness by reducing negative symptoms. Positive psychology focuses on increasing well-being.

Hope interventions focus on improving happiness, well-being, and positive cognition.
It is very valuable for the following types:

  • People who are experiencing a loss of control - the skidding effect.
  • People who are experiencing a sense of hopelessness from failure or loss - the bruising effect.
  • People who seem to have tried everything but find themselves back where they started - the boomerang effect.
  • Individuals who feel like no one understands them and find it difficult to connect with others - the alien effect.
  • Create a hope map to develop clear and exciting goals and actions that will help in the pursuit of the goal, identifying and overcoming possible barriers, and maintaining motivation.
  • Keep a hope journal. Writing about challenges, what gives hope, and what could potentially give hope can highlight the factors that can interfere with developing a more hopeful outlook.
  • Explore beliefs about hope. What does it mean to have hope? What are the benefits of having hope?
  • Think about internal movie. Write a short internal movie in which a chosen goal is the main character. Visualise the obstacles that may occur during the process of achieving that goal to encourage finding alternative pathways around and through challenges.

AHS is a 12-item measure of hope for people over 15 years of age.
Two sub-scales of the 12-item measure of hope are:

  • Agency thinking (goal-directed energy). Scores can range from 4 to 32 points. The higher numbers reflect a higher amount of goal-directed energy.
  • Pathways thinking (planning to accomplish goals.) Scores also range from 4 to 32 points. The higher numbers indicate a greater ability for planning to achieve goals.

4 of the 12 items measure pathways thinking, 4 items measure agency thinking, and 4 items are fillers.

  • Realistic hope: It is hope for an outcome that is reasonable and possible. For example, hope for ease from chronic pain, knowing that complete eradication is unrealistic.
  • Utopian hope: It is a collectively oriented hope that combined action can lead to a better future for everyone.
  • Chosen hope: Hope helps us live with a problematic present in an uncertain future. Choosing hope for the smallest range of goals is essential to control negative emotions.
  • Transcendent hope, or existential hope, is the hope that is not tied to a specific outcome, but a general hope that something good can happen.

HHI is developed to measure a total, non-time oriented sense of hope.
The Herth Hope Index consists of three dimensions:

  • Temporality and future - creating goals and a positive outlook on life and not a fear of the future.
  • Positive readiness and expectancy - a sense of direction.
  • Interconnectedness - a sense of giving and receiving love instead of a feeling of isolation.
  • The Children’s Hope Scale (CHS) is designed to measure the overall hopeful thinking in children between the ages of 8 - 16.
  • The Herth Hope Scale (HHS) is designed to capture the multidimensional aspects of hope. It measures three dimensions of hope: cognitive-temporal, affective behavioral, and affiliative-contextual.
  • The Miller Hope Scale (MHS) was developed to measure hope in individuals who survived a critical illness. The items are divided into three components: Satisfaction with self, others, and life; Avoidance of threats to hope such as withdrawal from life; Anticipation of a future.

The State Hope Scale was designed to assess an individual's momentary goal-directed thinking.

It has a 6 item self-report, and respondents have to rate items based on how they think about themselves. (from 1 - definitely false to 8 - definitely true.)

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What is hope?

  • Hope is more than just a state of mind; it is an action-oriented strength.
  • According to hope researcher Dr. Charles Snyder, from a 'doing' poitn of view, hopefulness is a life-sustaining human strength comprised of clear idea of valuable goals, the capacity to develop strategies to reach those goals, and the ability to stay motivated to apply those strategies.
  • Hope gives us a reason to continue fighting and believing that things will improve, despite the unpredictable nature of our existence.
Cautionary Hope

Research shows that during disasters, altruism and kindness happen more than greed and selfishness. To tide over the current crisis requires optimism along with caution.

Action and accomplishment is a requirement to improve our and other people's lives. We cannot wish away the current situation and need to take affirmative, organized action.

The planet needs us to fix itself, and we have plenty of work to do.

Positive psychology: the "science of happiness"

The "science of happiness" was born as a result of Martin Seligman's (the father of positive psychology) endeavour to approach psychology beyond the idea of restoring normality in individuals and to look at happiness and contentment as ways to not only restore normality, but also to prevent and protect as well as potentially cure.

Positive psychology has three main areas: Generation of both short and long term healthy pleasures, joy obtained through the connection with others and happiness that comes from a meaningful life.

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