Because I am a lover of words, I sometimes get a single word trapped in my head on a loop. The word won’t leave me until I exhaustively research it, wringing out every last bit of meaning, applying the word to my life, drinking the word up like a big glass of water. Only after I burn the word up, does it leave my head.
The other night I found myself sitting on my couch crying over some stupid internet video about a birth announcement. Even my dog got freaked out by the whole scene and chose to be in his crate rather than on the couch with me. I asked myself, how did I get here?
And then word ‘hope’ appeared in my head and started nesting. Why had this word come to me so vividly?
After some time and staring into space, I realized that it had come to me then because I still have hope that love exists, still have hope that there are people out there who aren’t afraid of feeling, aren’t afraid of expressing themselves in warm and genuine ways. It wasn’t really the pregnancy announcement itself that got me, but the idea that there is much love left in the world. An overflowing cup I’d like to drink from again one day.
So I looked up the definition of hope and then I fell down the rabbit hole.
Merriam-Webster defines ‘hope’ in the way I think most of us do: “To cherish a desire with anticipation.” Think of those Obama posters from his first campaign. Had his supporters not cherished the desire of electing him to presidency with much anticipation? Before you think too much about that I have to say about hope, ponder for a second how you use the word hope in your daily life. My guess is, if you’re like me, is that you use hope as as synonym for “wish”.
“I hope the subway isn’t late.” “I hope there’s free pizza.” “I hope he texts me back.”
I haven’t really ever put enough weight into the word until Merriam’s second definition got to me. Hope can also be defined as ‘trust.’
“I trust the subway isn’t late.” “I trust there’s free pizza.” “I trust he will text me back.”
Not only does that little change make you sound fancier (it really does) but instead of making a wish for something, you are BELIEVING and trusting in that something. Pretty powerful, right?
I also stumbled upon Snyder’s Hope Theory. Created by the positive psychologist, Rick Snyder. (I pulled the basic info from mindtools.com but there are lots of websites and resources you can pull this information from. You can search for his articles on Google as well.)
From Mind Tools: “Snyder characterized hopeful thinkers as people who are able to establish clear goals, imagine multiple workable pathways toward those goals, and persevere, even when obstacles get in their way.” Goals. Pathways to those goals. And the agency to believe in your own ability to achieve these goals. Snyder even went as far as to develop a scale to measure how hopeful you are.
I never considered hope as being measurable. I also didn’t think of it as human survival tactic but according to Snyder, this is exactly what hope is. A way for humans to reach goals, to thrive, and to continue to push forward when things are really bleak.
Hope is what helps us to succeed.
It’s not surprising then that I’m not completely devoid of hope, I just occasionally have difficulty finding it. Or rather, wanting to find it. It can be hard because you know you have to move forward, and you will, but standing still sounds so much better.
In the end I have hope and trust for a lot of things. I hope to find what makes me happy in this life. I trust that there is good out there. I hope to love again. I trust that I can do this… despite being the type of person that cries because of a silly Internet video.