What is hope?

Hope - is it the absence of despair?  That is assuming despair is the default so it is not a positive way to look at hope.  Hope looks too negative if that is all it is.

The alternative is that hope is the natural default state.  It is despair that is not and it is parasitic on hope.  It latches on to hope and twists it.

What if there is just a vacuum there?  Does hope just fill that vacuum?  Can despair do it just as handy? If hope is just a hole filler it's not a great thing after all even if it feels good.  It will also be fragile for it is just about filling a space.

If hope and its friends love and compassion are only there to fill a space they are fragile and are too much about taking for themselves.  Hope may be the one that goes wrong the most. Without hope, love and compassion are impossible. So hope take up home in the hole first and the others come.  The hole remains a hole when there is something just getting in.  The hole is still the main thing.  The fragility of hope's position is probably why it has led to insane world wars.  False hope is what hope is called when it goes wrong. The fact remains it was never false hope.  Hope is real and cannot be called false just because the consequences were so vile.  Plus hope usually tells itself that no matter how bad things are the bigger picture is okay.

Now to optimism.

Psychologists Gene Alarcon, Nathan Bowling, and Steven Khazon argue: “The optimistic person believes that somehow—either through luck, the actions of others, or one’s own actions—that his or her future will be successful and fulfilling. The hopeful person, on the other hand, believes specifically in his or her own capability for securing a successful and fulfilling future.” 

I would argue that genuine safe optimism is realistic and should be learned from how things should turn out for the best or okay.  The optimistic person learns through experience that they can cope with what happens and don't need luck.  Luck is about hope and vice versa.  Religious hope specifically denies that you can look after yourself and you need God for God creates all. 

The psychological study conducted by Patricia Bruininks and Bertram Malle found that, “Hope is distinct from optimism by being an emotion, representing more important but less likely outcomes, and by affording less personal control. When people do have a high degree of control, they may no longer need to be just hopeful but can be optimistic because the outcome is now attainable."

Hope is not the same thing as optimism.

Can hope exist without optimism?

Yes. People can be sure that something dreadful will happen and still hope for a tiny chance that it will not happen.

Can optimism exist without hope?

Yes. It is less scary than hope for it is evidence-based and is not trying to believe that luck that may never come will save the day.

What overlaps do they have?

Only that they feel and think something fine or good can happen.

What is the good side of optimism?

You have to put in the work to achieve the goals you believe will happen.

You have to put in the work on yourself to appreciate and cherish the goals when you get them and to cherish the journey that brought them to you.

Optimism should be kept realistic. Challenges and new information is a blessing for the optimist.

What is the good side of hope?

It is better than thinking and feeling there is no hope.  But that does not necessarily mean it is desirable - needing a tooth pulled is not desirable either.

Hope needs to be defied by trying to educate yourself in the reality even if it is scary and gloomy. Hope is only tolerable when it is reasonably informed hope. And even then it is a poor imitation of optimism.

Definitions of hope confuse it with confidence but it is not the same thing. Optimism is a bigger thing than hope. Optimism really matters. If you have to have optimism or hope then choose optimism.

Professor C R Synder claimed that: “Hope is a positive motivational state that is based on an interactively derived sense of successful (a) agency (goal-directed energy), and (b) pathways (planning to meet goals)”.  That is nonsense.  The motivation to labour for the best for  yourself and others can be there though you think you will not succeed.  That is determination not hope.

What is the bad side of optimism?

None as long as you realise nothing happens by itself and you have to work for it. Do not blame disappointments and things going wrong on your optimism. Have the optimism to overcome them and start again. See them as lessons.

What is the bad side of hope?

It has no truly good side.  Also, there is such a thing as false hope and it leads to terrible disappointment.  You never know if the person who seems to have hope has hope or false hope.  Only they can know why they hope and only the results can tell if the hope is false hope.  When you hope when it seems sensible it does not mean you know its sensible.

“Hope is the most evil of evils because it prolongs man's torment” said Friedrich Nietzsche. Hope has led to people letting tyrants trample over them. Religious hope breaks the rule that hope must be based on concrete facts and information.  Hope is not a great thing if it can be done without and somebody dies or is tyrannised over it.

If you feel you have to hope because the alternative is too painful that means hope cannot be very joyful.  And hope and fear go together for you do not need hope unless you are afraid.  Fear can be worsened by hope.  The more you wish something can happen the more you may fear that it may not.

Optimism should be your core value for it tells you you can work for your good and handle obstacles and confidence in dealing with negative outcomes or obstacles is a form of optimism itself.

Hope is what you do when you truly and really are stuck. It is realising that you have no personal control over a situation and how you are going to feel about it and how long you are going to feel. Hope thinks a positive outcome is very unlikely and you can only hope it will happen anyway or that you will find it okay when it does happen.  Hope is dung compared to optimism.  People who hope base themselves on negative thinking and that can spread to others and with negative thinking feeling hope is more down to luck than anything else.  Hope is your possession and it will affect how you influence others and pass negative thinking to them and negative thinking is never good.  Whoever needs negative thinking and has hope will lose that hope.  It will happen.  Hope is despair hidden by a smile.

The Journal of Positive Psychology found that people can experience high levels of optimism and still be only a little bit hopeful in getting what they want.  It is clear from that which is the best.  The good is often the enemy of the best but it is hard to describe hope as being in any way really good.

We see finally that hope and optimism are different though they have one or two overlaps and hope is dangerous. It is a necessary evil at best and cannot be a source of joy unless it is false hope.  Religious hope is more likely to be false hope than ordinary hope.  You may hope for a miracle and your hopes will be more realistic if you are a secularist.

Thinking or hoping life has meaning is not necessarily going to protect you from anything.  It can and will make you feel worse in the face of the hopeless.


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