Welcome to the wisdom of Hope.

There’s something fresh and energizing about new beginnings and new years. However, after two years of COVID and everything that that’s entailed for you, you may be feeling a little less enthusiastic than usual.

This is what brings me to share the wisdom of Hope with you now.

“We need hope like we need air.”
– Brené Brown, Atlas of the Heart

What is hope?

Although hopelessness and despair are considered emotions, ‘hope’ is often not. Rather, most of the literature and research describes it as a mental state, a feeling, a trait, an attitude, or as Brené Brown shares, a cognitive process. 

Regardless of how you may categorize hope, it’s crucial, and may be the gift you need right now.

(If you already have it, then this may help you wield it more masterfully for your best experience of 2022.) 

Let’s dive in…

Here’s what some of the experts have to say about hope:

  • …A National Geographic special edition focused on the science of emotions, expressed hope as, “The well from which happiness, resilience and healing flow”.
  • …It’s what the late psychologist and hope researcher C.R. Snyder, proposed as the drive behind the well-being of people. 
  • …It’s what Karla McLaren, author of The Language of Emotions, states is a gift born of happiness (along with delight, wonder, playfulness and invigoration).
  • …It’s what medical researchers often attribute to the immense power of placebo.

And in the emotional methodology that I share in my coaching process, it’s an emotion with a similar frequency as trust (more on this later).

As you can likely relate, it’s the light at the end of the tunnel that helps us through tough times. 


The G.P.A. ‘Hope’ Trilogy

Brown shares in ‘Atlas of the Heart’ that C.R. Snyder’s research reveals that hope is achieved through a “trilogy” of goals, pathways and agency.

When all three are present, we have hope. 

To be specific…

  1. Goals: the ability to set realistic goals, which provide clarity and direction. 
  2. Pathways: the strategies and plans for achieving those goals, which must include the resiliency and adaptability to continue despite failure, disappointments or challenges. (If this resiliency or “disappointment tolerance” is void, so will be hope.)
  3. Agency: a belief that we can achieve what we desire. 

Conversely, when the above trilogy is absent, hopelessness settles in, which if pervasive, is closely trailed by despair.

Healing Hopelessness

When you think of a time when you lacked hope, or even felt hopeless or despairing, can you find any of the following?

  • Being unclear about what exactly you wanted/needed, or feeling unable to set goals.
  • A lack of know-how, strategy, and resources; and/or a lack of “disappointment tolerance” and persistence in face of challenges or perceived failures.
  • A lack of agency or confidence in your ability to achieve your goals successfully.

Given our current COVID situation, we may easily see that the hopefulness or hopelessness within ourselves and those around us, doesn’t always rest fully within ourselves.

Our hope can also be greatly affected by those around us, and by our belief (or trust) in those who are setting the goals and pathways.

The more self-responsibility and agency we have, however, the more hope we can cultivate.

We can also ignite hope through faith, and/or anchoring into what we can trust. 


>>> When you reflect on the areas in your life, where you feel great hope, and where you feel less hope, how does the GPA trilogy play out?

>>> What do you trust, or lack trust in?

>>> What else comes up for you?

The Nitty-Gritty of Hope

The feeling of hope:
A sense of wonder with a genuine, positive regard or expectation for one’s situation or future. 

Hope is learned, is socially contagious, and is born out of discomfort, struggle and adversity.

A powerful distinction between hope and doubt:
Interestingly, despite hope holding a sense of wonder and genuine anticipation for the future, we often use it as a superficial cover for doubt. 

For instance, we might say something like, “I really hope this is the last period of the frigid weather.” when it might be more accurate to say, “I doubt, this is the last period of frigid weather.” 

The word ‘hope’ is often used in place of the word ‘doubt’, but has a vastly different energy, and carries tremendous possibility and opportunity that is dampened by doubt.

The function of hope:
Hope brings light to the dark, and invites expansion of what’s possible. 

Hope is what allows us to recover from ‘dark nights of the soul’; to dream again; and to persist in action towards our goals and desires, despite setbacks. 

The potential message of hope:
It’s possible; there’s a way; you CAN do this; don’t give up; keep trying.

A practice for cultivating hope:

  1. Hang out with those who have hopeful attitudes and who lift your spirits (or simply watch Ted Lasso nightly instead of the news; hopeful books, podcasts, etc. also count).
  2. Get playful – even silly. Children are masters of hope and hopefulness, and play is one way they do this. 
  3. Create space to dream, explore, and be creative. This fosters a more open, hopeful and resourceful mindset.
  4. Set goals that are realistic (the research shows that the pursuit of unrealistic goals is often what creates hopelessness).
  5. Strategize your pathways/plans.
  6. Maintain a “win/success” log. With the negativity bias hard at work, this builds up your confidence, agency and winning attitude. 
  7. Practice self-compassion and forgiveness. This isn’t to be “soft” on yourself, but rather to build the necessary resilience for tolerating and rising from disappointments, mistakes and setbacks that will surely be faced along the way. 
  8. Practice noticing what you can trust in, even if it’s simply that nothing in the world stays the same, that emotions come and go, that the past doesn’t need to be the future, and that no state is permanent. This opens space for new possibility, and HOPE.

Emotions are healthy when they’re fluid, just like floating clouds or ripples in a lake. As human beings living whole-hearted lives, we’re going to feel it ALL, and that’s the point. 

If you feel stuck, please hit “reply”, or book a complimentary Discovery Coaching Session with me.

Alternatively, if you’re in Alberta, you can access AB Health services wide range of therapists here.