Hope is good for your mental health

© Glow Images. Model used illustrative purposes

© Glow Images. Model used illustrative purposes

Hope. It’s what’s led to the final release and freedom for three Cleveland women held in captivity and sexually abused by a man for ten years. During this time, it’s reported that two of the families held vigils. They never gave up hope that their girls would return home alive.

Hope is powerful. It’s the expectation of achieving good in your life. Hopefulness is a combination of  potent mind-qualities. It’s a mixture that includes a dash of self-belief, several drops of faith, a large scoop of courage and more than a splash of determination to accomplish your goal.

Hopefulness, however, is not just about being a positive type of person, but also having the expectation of making improvements to one’s own life. After all, having hopeful expectancy is what has brought new inventions to the surface and consequently benefitted individuals and the world.

Most of these new developments have started with the belief that there was a way, or even a better way, to do something. Every originator has taken his or her inbuilt creative hope that their particular idea would ultimately make a difference, and then carried it along on the wings of expectation and effort. This kind of hope is more than just wishing for good things to happen, or having a positive attitude.

Dr Shane Lopez, author of the book “Making Hope Happen,” says, “Hope is half optimism. The other half is the belief in the power that you can make it so. There is a profound difference between hoping and wishing. Wishing encourages passivity, whereas hope represents an active stance…Wishing is the fantasy that everything is going to turn out OK. Hoping is actually showing up for the hard work.”

I learned the truth of this assertion when a highly respected music teacher told me that I didn’t have a hope in the world of passing a theory exam. I needed to complete three years of learning in only one year. She believed that there was no way I could do that. For several lessons she reiterated her point of view. I was devastated by such crushing negativity. My hope in accomplishing this important work began to diminish in the face of her pessimism. My belief that I could pass this exam started to slip away.  Finally I quit her class.

However, I still needed to pass that exam to fulfil my course of study. What was I going to do? There was a choice to be made – give up entirely, or continue on my own. Plucking up my courage, I decided not to accept the teacher’s opinion. Re-kindling my self-belief, I rolled up my work-sleeves and studied hard.  The result? Hope triumphed. I completed the work, took the exam and passed with a high distinction.

This lesson on the power of hope has continued to benefit me throughout my life. I’ve even carried it over into the health arena. Like many other individuals, I’ve found that it’s possible to achieve a happy, healthy life by embracing faith, courage, and the expectation of achieving good health.

As Dr. Lopez discovered from the largest study of hopeful people ever conducted, hope for the future is linked to emotional and physical wellbeing. It seems to buffer us from stress, anxiety and the effects of negative life events. It also promotes healthy behaviours that support health and prevent disease.

This is why hope has been described as an essential life tool. It’s not just an emotion. It’s a state of mind – a life-saving, life-changing quality of thought. This way of thinking can be strengthened through spiritual means – prayer, meditation, religious practices, or reading books with a spiritual message.

A woman author and pioneer in the understanding of hopefulness writes, “Knowledge that we can accomplish the good we hope for, stimulates the system in the right direction which Mind points out.” Mary Baker Eddy: Science and Health. p.394. Eddy seems to be revealing that the good health we desire is achievable with the support of a divine intelligence. It’s an encouraging thought. One that can reinforce our belief system and confidence in our ability to be well and stay well.

Certainly, studies of workers over time suggest that hopeful employees experience greater well-being than those who are not. This would seem to indicate that being a hopeful person has benefits. It can lead to a happier, healthier, more productive life. It’s entirely possible then for anyone to be a positive, optimistic – glass half-full kind of individual. Anyone can be confident and expectant of achieving good health and fulfilling their life-goals.

This article also appeared on The Wellness Wire -  an Internet daily inspired to help forward lifestyles of health, happiness, and longevity, and a peaceful, just, sustainable world.

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I'm a Melbourne based health writer who provides a perspective on the connection between spirituality, thought and health. As a keen blogger, my aim is to provide the public with a diversity of health content including research into the mind-body connection and how thought affects health.

Comments

  1. Robin Clarke says

    Thanks, Beverley, for this rousing message to start the day. I especially like the quote about the difference between wishing and hoping. In the bible, there is a verse I like. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

  2. says

    So good to have your comment Robin. Thanks for posting it. I like your definition of faith from the Scriptures. That’s another helpful way to think about what hope is. Hope often seems intangible, but it is a concrete mental quality that leads to good health.

  3. Keziah says

    I just so appreciate your article on ‘hope’. For me being hopeful is not enough, it must be accommpanied by commitment to see or have our hope realised. As a student of Science and Health, as mentioned in your article, hope also has a spiritual dimension so that I am not relying entirely on self but on a higher power for strength and direction through prayer. That’s not complicated, but simple, honest prayer plus an expectation of good. Honest listening for direction is also part of our hopeful prayer. Many thanks for such a positive start to our week.

    • says

      Thank you Keziah for your comment. Yes, hope has to be backed up with a positive mental attitude and with hard work. That’s so different to just sitting back and wishing for a good outcome. Hope is a state of mind that can be strengthened by spiritual thinking and action – as you’ve found by the sounds of it. Well done.

  4. says

    Thank you Beverly for that distinctive article. The distinction between hope and wishful thinking or opinion of other is described so clearly in your own example and brings more hope than any other kind of talks or discussions on that theme.

    • says

      Thank you Michael for your comment. I appreciate hearing from you. Yes the experience I related has continued to help me with the idea of hope. It’s taught me not to give up when things are tough, but to keep working hard, and to keep expecting good results. That to me is hope in action.

  5. Bob says

    In Scripture, according to the Hebrew and Greek words translated by the word “hope” and according to the biblical usage, hope is an indication of certainty. “Hope” in Scripture means “a strong and confident expectation.” Though archaic today in modern terms, hope is akin to trust and a confident expectation. Hope may refer to the activity of hoping, or to the object hoped for—the content of one’s hope.

    • says

      Thank you Bob for your comments about hope. I like the idea that hope is an indication of certainty. We all need to have that strong, confident, expectation that we can achieve the good health we hope for.

  6. Simone says

    Thankyou Beverly for your gift of hope. I enjoy reading all your postings and think you’re doing a wonderful job!
    I enjoyed also your previous postings around anzac day, and loved the old photos of you performing.
    Love Simone

    • says

      Thank you Simone for your comment…and encouragement. That’s most kind of you. I am grateful to know that you are finding my posts helpful. I know that each of us can be confident and expectant of achieving good health and fulfilling life-goals. I’m sure that this is true for you also. Love to you too.

  7. Dr. Lauren Colston says

    “Three grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.”
    Joseph Addison

    • says

      Thank you Dr Colston for sharing that statement by Joseph Addison. I’m sure that many people have found it rings true for them – especially “having something to hope for”. It’s what keeps us going. Thanks too for the good work you’re doing as a clinical therapist.

  8. Pauline Rita Noorts says

    Thank you Beverly as always we live in thought and move in thought, love in thought, hope in thought it is a great adventure,
    Loving thoughts always,………………Pauline.

    • says

      Thank you Pauline for joining in the great adventure. Hope is a strengthening quality of mind that pushes us forward to be confident and expectant of achieving good health and fulfilling our life-goals.

  9. says

    Thank you Beverley. A lovely and timely article. I recently lost my job and through choices decided to start up a business of my own. The plan is that my wife joins me and we are able to continue on our own and when times get tough (pretty much right now is one of those points in time), the hope of what this business will provide for us keeps us pressing on. So thank you.

    • says

      Thank you Gary for leaving a comment. I am sorry to hear about you losing your job. However, well done on starting your own business. I am sure that your desire to help others will bear fruit. Hope is a positive basis for business success.

  10. anne wiggs says

    Hi Beverly, thank you again for your words of wisdom, they especially spoke to me today, as a close family member is struggling to have “hope” in what appears to be a hopeless situation. I have previously found that gratitude for what we have already, goes hand-in-hand with hope, because as a previous commenter stated “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”, indicates the actual ever-presence of the desired good, that it already exists, we only need to realize it. To some (like my family member), it may seem as if something has to change for the better, how reassuring to know…it already has, it’s already here, right now !

  11. says

    Thank you Anne for your comments. Your loving thoughts for your family member and your hope that they will experience good in their life, will bless and help them so much. That hope is comforting and reassuring you too. As you say, good is always present. It’s there for each and every one of us. No one is left out. That’s the kind of hope that keeps us going in tough times.