Saturday, January 31, 2015

7 facts about hope


The psychology of hope owes much to the thinking and research of the late C. R.Snyder (2002). His research suggested two components.  Hope involves thinking about ways to achieve goals and objectives (pathways). And hope includes those motivational thoughts that energize people to use the identified pathways to reach their goals (agency thinking).

1. Hope links to compassion.
People high in hope are also more compassionate (Sutton et al., 2014). People full of hope love to share their hope with others. People in despair have lost hope and are in desperate need of hearing a message of hope. Hopelessness is in fact a diagnostic feature of clinical depression. Many find hope in the meaning provided through religious faith, including Christianity.

2. Hope links to forgiveness.
People with higher hope scores also score higher on trait forgiveness (Sutton et al., 2014). Hope promotes forgiveness in people. And people who learn forgiveness experience increased hope (Wade et al., 2014). Forgivingness is a way of living that continually lets go of past hurts. People who habitually forgive are free to focus on the present and the future unfettered by old wounds. Hope is a future focused motivational attitude. Hopeful people look forward rather than backward. Forgiveness provides a ground for hope. It is hard to hope for a better future when chained to the hurts of yesteryear.

3. Hope connects people to God.
I and my colleagues found that more hopeful people were significantly less anxious about their relationship with God (Sutton et al., 2014). Throughout the world, people hope in God or spiritual beings. People pray, offer sacrifices, and seek to connect with God. Committed Christians come expectantly to God and feel secure in their relationship. People losing hope feel insecure and struggle in their relationship with God.

4. Hope connects people to people.
When visiting a refugee camp in Kenya, I was pleased to see a U.S. charity from my city was also there giving away bags of rice. The apt name, Convoy of Hope, did indeed offer hope in a compassionate way to people who had lost all they had as they fled from machete wielding warriors (Sutton, 2012). Meeting people's needs offers hope.

Kenyan refugees about to receive rice from Convoy of Hope

5. Hope thrives on gratitude.
The hope of children is in their parents. And the hope of parents is in their children. We are interdependent but the balance of dependence shifts from infancy to advancing age. Smiles and squeals of delights reveal a toddler’s wordless gratitude for a trip to a playground. A smile and a thank you from an elderly person provide evidence that the visit she hoped for met her needs for companionship. Without gratitude, hope is lost. Taking children or visiting an elderly relative becomes a chore. The intergenerational connections become chains of obligations rather than blessed pathways of hope.

6. Hope links to effective spiritual service.
Hopeful people report high levels of effective service (Sutton et al., 2014). Leading, teaching, and caring for others requires energy and a belief that what one is doing helps others. People involved in service have hope that they are making a difference in the lives of others. Helping others seems like an investment in the future. All investments are borne of hope.

  Hope is like planting seeds to reap a bountiful harvest.

7. Hope leads to goal achievement.
Hope leads to achievement in many areas. Here's a quote from hope expert, C. R. Snyder: "Higher hope consistently is related to better outcomes in academics, athletics, physical health, psychological adjustment, and psychotherapy." 

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.
Proverbs 13:12


Copy of the Hope Scale


Hope and marriage 


Snyder, C.R. (2002). Hope theory: Rainbows in the mind. Psychological Inquiry, 13, 249-275. Link to abstract.

Sutton, G. W. (2012). Refugee center: Kenya. Recorder. 55, 36. (Link to the Recorder Link

Sutton, G. W., Jordan, K., & Worthington, E.L., Jr. (2014). Spirituality, hope, compassion, and forgiveness: Contributions of Pentecostal spirituality to godly love. Journal of Psychology and Christianity, 33, 212-226.  ResearchGate

Wade, N. G., Hoyt, W. T., Worthington, E. L., Jr., & Kidwell, J. E. M. (2014). Metaanalysis of psychotherapeutic interventions to promote forgiveness. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 82, 154-170. 

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