To Hope or Not?

Charlene Norman
4 min readMar 4, 2024

The other week, I was chastised for using the phrase … “I refuse to give up. We CAN’T give up hope.” Apparently, according to the protagonist, the word hope is far too passive for our world now, is not what is needed these days and should be replaced with ‘love and rage.’ It’s not about being hopeful; it’s about being actionful.

I love the old-fashioned idea the Oxford dictionary speaks of. It’s a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen. A sense of trust. A want for something to happen or be the case. Perhaps there isn’t enough action in a sense, yearning or a desire. However, I can not imagine NOT having anything to be hopeful about. Nor can I imagine the combination of the two concepts of love and rage as a better substitute.

What is Hope?

Hope is an optimistic state of mind that is based on an expectation of positive outcomes with respect to events and circumstances in one’s life or the world at large. As a verb, its definitions include: “expect with confidence” and “to cherish a desire with anticipation.”

Granted, there are no absolutes with hope. Exactly as it is with love, trust and faith. And we humans, particularly these days, are drawn towards finding absolutes. In as much as we can control those absolutes, count on them, bet on them, and lean on them. Which makes no sense.

Our lives are constantly changing; there is no constant except change itself. In order to navigate through all that and more, we need to summon love, trust, faith and hope to get to the other side. Always.

In 2022, American psychologist Charles Snyder wrote the positive psychology concept of “Hope Theory.” He believes hope is the belief that your future will be better than the present and that you can make it happen. It involves both optimism and a can-do attitude.

(I prefer Positive psychology because it is the scientific study of what makes life worth living and focuses on developing strengths and positive traits rather than healing weaknesses or disease.)

While hope certainly involves our emotions, hope itself is not an emotion. Hope is a way of thinking or a state of being. This means that hope can be taught. Hope is also distinct from a wish.

Hope involves taking action toward a goal, while a wish is out of your control. For instance, if you’re at a restaurant and say, “I hope my food comes out hot,” that’s a wish because you have no control over it.

The Basis of Hope Theory

There are two types of goal outcomes: positive and negative

Positive goal outcomes:

  • Reaching a goal for the first time. You want to buy a new car.
  • Sustaining a present goal. You want to continue making payments on your vehicle so you can keep it.
  • Increasing something that’s already begun. You want to become a better driver.

Negative goal outcomes:

  • Deterring something so that it never happens. You eat fruits and vegetables every day to avoid getting sick.
  • Deterring something so that it is delayed. You ask for a payment extension, so you don’t have to pay your bill yet.

High-hope people fare better in several areas of life. According to Snyder, higher levels of hope are consistently linked to better mental health, physical health, academics, athletics, and physical health outcomes. In other words, high-hope people tend to have higher levels of overall well-being.

In one study, researchers looked at hope and well-being in a sample of nearly 13,000 participants. The team discovered that high-hope participants reported the following:

  • more positive emotions
  • stronger sense of purpose and meaning
  • lower levels of depression
  • less loneliness

We NEED Hope

I do not believe the hype about hope in a jar, hoping and not doing or ‘hoping against hope.’ I do think we all need more hope in our lives — despite what is going on around us.

Hope is the belief that your future will be better than today and that you’re able to make it happen. It involves optimism, motivation, and strategy. The best part about hope is that it’s a learned skill. With practice, you can develop a hopeful attitude, improving your mental and physical health and even reducing your risk of death.

Which leads me to think, my protagonist must feel that creating his own level of hope is futile. If you need more hope in your life, let me know. I’ll tell you about a solution that might work for you.



Charlene Norman

Inspiring good humans to make a difference for all on Planet Earth. Podcast host, author, and community leader. Fanatical about change for the highest good.