Hope is my word for the new year. I am sometimes weighed down by pessimistic perspectives on life’s challenges. This year I want to turn this pessimism around, going beyond simple optimism, to real hope for the possibilities of the future. This hope is defined as the belief that our future will be better than today and we have the power to make it so. Ecophilosopher Joanna Macy uses the phrase active hope.
In research studies of hope by Charles Snyder (author of the compelling book, The Psychology of Hope: You Can Get There from Here, 1994) and more recently by Casey Gwinn and Chan Hellman (authors of Hope Rising: How the Science of Hope Can Change your Life, 2022), three components of hope have been revealed: goals, willpower, and waypower. Goals need to be aspirational and realistic, built on imagination and possibility, and a belief that the goals are achievable. We need multiple pathways to follow from the present time to the desired future, with alternatives for when the inevitable obstacles impede our progress. And we need confidence, energy, and willpower, sometimes referred to as agency, to sustain us as we move along these pathways towards our goals.
We may also need help and collaboration from others rather than trying to go it alone. “Together we can; together we will” is Dr. Jane Goodall’s rallying cry in her new book, The Book of Hope, written with Douglas Abrams. In her invitation to hope, Jane acknowledges that we are going through dark times but believes the hope for our world is much more than wishful thinking. My invitation is to begin a new journey of hope, or reinvigorate an existing journey, with two or three aspirational yet believable goals to make our future better than the present, and a belief that we have the pathways of possibility and the energy and willpower to make it so. I invite you to take positive steps on your journey of hope today.