If hope were only a feeling it might be fleeting indeed.  Hope is a way of thinking about things that can be a conscious choice.  It is mentally imagining and examining possibilities and opportunities and sources of strength, even when one feels frustrated and discouraged.  Yet hope is more than thinking, too.  At its most powerful, hope is behavior.  It is behavior that physically and interpersonally explores circumstances for those possibilities, opportunities, and sources of strength.  Hopeful behavior accumulates experience in the form of awareness of self and others, wisdom, flexibility, resilience, skills, and successes.  Through such experience hopeful behavior develops confidence.  More than self-esteem, confidence is the strength that comes from seeing more clearly and deeply, and knowing through experience.

There are those in this world who are afraid to hope because hoping risks looking naïve, idealistic, or foolish.  This is the core of cynicism.  One cannot hope for the things one values in this world without risking failure.   By their nature important things are usually difficult to achieve and sustain.  Some who are afraid to hope thus fall into a pattern of withdrawal and passivity.  Others settle for short-term self-aggrandizement or material gain. Both groups overlook that these ways of living entail much greater risk, to everything that provides deeper fulfillment.

The tyrants of this world usually fall into the second group.  They seek to control and subjugate others for short term gain.  They would like nothing better than for the oppressed to give up hope, because they sense the power of hope to loosen their grip on power.  Not only are they afraid to hope, but they are afraid of hope.

In this New Year, I am recommitting myself to the practice of hope.  I write this in the hope that you may too!


P.S.: If you’re working on a resolution, click here.