An Anatomy of Hope

Two quotes kept me wondering about hope lately:

  • If you lose hope, somehow you lose the vitality that keeps life moving, you lose that courage to be, that quality that helps you go on in spite of it all.” - Martin Luther King
  • "Losing all hope was freedom" - Tyler Durden, in Fight Club

Martin Luther King felt hope was a kind of life force. A variant of optimism - A blind, unjustified belief that the odds are always in our favor. Is this belief true? No one knows. And that's the beauty of it ! Danish philosopher Kierkegaard's conception of hope was the certainty that God’s helping hand will always be there. That, no matter what, there will always be an alternative, a light at the end of the tunnel. It didn't have to be true. For that is what faith is - A conviction (not reality) manifesting as a useful neural pathway to keep you going.

And Tyler's quote corroborates this assertion. At its worst, hope is a daydream ailment where we try to mentally steer the future, raising our expectations and ensuring disappointment will hurt six-fold more. That hope we need to lose.

So what habit could help us leverage the goodies of hope while shedding the baddies? R. Snyder, professor of psychology at the University of Kansas can help! To him, hope is not an emotion or a life force but a cognitive skill – the ability to see a number of paths to getting to our goal, not just one. SO ! Habit:

  • Trigger: I'm stuck, am facing a challenge and / or the future looks uncertain because of x
  • Routine: Write down 5 alternative paths (not one less!) to the one obsessing you
  • Rewards: Relief, life is beautiful and ! A secret victory dance

Good morning hopeful people :D