The Power of Hope and Optimism

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The Power of Hope and Optimism .

By Antonietta Marinelli | Nov 06, 2020

This month at Mentor Education we are focusing on hope as we are involved in the 2020 Hope Barometer. The 2020 Hope Barometer is an international research initiative involving over 15 countries worldwide. The Barometer itself is formed by a scientifically broad-based study of the hopes, desires, and future expectations of our population, designed to investigate the fundamental aspects, conditions, and interrelations of a positive attitude towards the future. For more information surrounding the Hope Barometer

But, what is hope? And how do we implement that state of mind into our lives? Hope is a feeling of expectation and the desire for something to happen. As humans, we are in an optimistic mindset where all positive energy is put out into the universe with the hope for positive outcomes with events and circumstances. When we think of hope, we are faced towards positive psychology. Positive psychology began as a domain of psychology in 1998 (Time Magazine, 2005) and has been framed as the study of the “good life”. (Seligman & Csikszenmihalyi, Positive Psychology: An introduction 2000).

Both interrelated, hope and optimism are powerful predictors of positive outcomes. Optimism predicts greatest career success, relationships, well-being and health. Hope predicts the ability to attain your personal goals, achieve great academic results, choose a better diet and lifestyle habits and recover better from illness (E.L Raab, 2020).

The significance of hope as an outcome from formal education is founded in the impact it has on students and graduates with respect to world views, personal value and future expectations. Each level of formal education has a role to play in equipping graduates with skills, knowledge, and the psychological capability to address challenges. It can be argued that hope plays a significant part of this capability as hopeful thinking and disposition allow individuals to establish well defined goals, a belief in their ability to develop strategies for reaching those goals and the requisite motivation to use those strategies. (Snyder, Shorey, & Rand, Handbook of the teaching of psychology., 2006).
But the real question is, how do we be more hopeful and optimistic?

1. Changing your mindset and shifting expectations

Optimism can be a difficult thing to practice when daily life events are thrown in our face, with bad things happening all over the world but if you take the time to consciously change your thought process and lean into a more optimistic approach. Neuroscientist Tali Sharot explains that optimism changes the way we see it. But it also changes objective reality. It acts as a self-fulfilling prophecy, meaning when you wake up in the morning and hold a negative mindset then you’re setting yourself up for a negative day. Think of the positive things that could take place throughout the day, even if it be the simple pleasures of taking that first sip of coffee, or opening the window to see the sun shining. Train yourself to think more positively.

2. Another experience can change your outlook

We all are guilty of getting lost in our own thoughts and critiquing our own experiences which may have led to a negative or unfortunate outcome. However, something that we seem to forget is that sometimes our own experiences may have guided another individual down a positive path. Listen carefully and intentionally to your loved ones, whether that be friends or family and you may be able to see another side of things.

3. There is a light at the end of the tunnel

Everyone knows the saying ‘there is always a light at the end of the tunnel!’. It does not mean denying that something is hard, traumatic, or painful (Raab, E.L 2020) but to actively and somewhat, purposely, seek the positive. It comes back down to self-reflection and asking, “what did I take away from that experience?”.

4. Take note of the company you keep.

We carry many different types of friends throughout our lifetime, and as we get older we start to establish ourselves and come to terms with what we like and do not like in a person - that, including old friends in which we would’ve made when we were younger. We may hold friends who hold too much negativity or depict poor qualities which go against being hopeful or optimistic. These emotions are contagious, but so are positive ones! HMS Professor of medical sociology and medicine, Nicholas Christaki researched and found that emotions can pulse through social networks like diseases. His research found that happiness may be a collective phenomenon. Having a happy spouse, or a friend or neighbor 8-increases the probability that you will be happy too. If you surround yourself with positive people who hold both optimism and ground in their life, you will start to be affected also - in the best possible way of course.

In taking part last year in the Hope Barometer for 2019, we got some truly amazing data and results on not what people are hopeful, their perception and views of the future, but what things influenced their levels of hope including the importance of family, job security, and even politics. Furthermore, you can contribute to this year’s research via the following link:

- Time Magazine. (2005). "Time Magazine's cover story in the special issue on "The Science of Happiness", 2005". Time Magazine.
- Seligman, M. E., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2000). Positive psychology: An introduction. American Psychologist. 55 (1), 5-14. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.55.1.5
- Cutruzzula, K. We Humans - Ideas.Tedm 2018 [Accessed October 4. 2020]
- Steinhilber, B. 2017. Better By Today “How to Train your Brain to Be More Optimistic”. [Accessed on 5 October 2020.]
- Michael F.Valle. 2006 Journal of School Psychology, Volume 44, Issue 5 [Accessed 5 October 2020]



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