Hopeful about hope.

Wednesday June 12, 2013

For many people, a low mood is experienced as an absence of hope. Depression and anxiety make us feel literally hope-less. But what is hope?

Hope is the opposite of despair. It's more than just desire, it's also the belief that a good outcome is possible.

Hope is the feeling that what you want can be had. It's looking forward to something desirable with reasonable confidence that it will happen. In other words, part of hope is the expectation of obtainment. That's why having unrealistic expectations is a fool's errand.

To build hope, it's crucial to have milestones so you can measure your progress and sustain your anticipation of success. You can't wish or will yourself into a state of hope because hope is a consequence rather than an end in itself.

There are two keys to building your stock of hope:

First, you need to set goals with substantial benefits. You have to believe that achieving your goal will bring bona fide benefits - you need to incentivize yourself. There's a direct correlation between the value of an incentive and the effort we are willing to put into it.

Second, you need to believe that you are capable of achieving it. What's your plan of campaign? What's your timetable? What outside help do you need? The clearer you are about your plan, the bigger your hope will grow.

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