Hope on a rope

Is hope a noose that keeps you motionless, or the lifeline that helps you climb out of your abyss?

Hope is the emotional state, the opposite of which is despair, which promotes the belief in a positive outcome related to events and circumstances in one’s life. It is the “feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best” or the act of “look[ing] forward to with desire and reasonable confidence” or “feel[ing] that something desired may happen”.     Wikipedia

Dr. Barbara L. Fredrickson, psychology professor at the University of North Carolina, argues that hope “…comes into play when our circumstances are dire”; she states that hope opens us up and removes the blinders of fear and despair and allows us to see the big picture, allowing us to become creative and have belief in a better future.

But is she right? There are different ways to use the emotion. Positive, proactive hope can fuel action, and give energy to change. Stagnant hope is only another face of despair, not its opposite, and the most paralysing of emotions, barring us from acceptance, blocking us from making any effort to help ourselves.

He that lives on hope will die fasting.  Benjamin Franklin

There’s the old joke about a man praying to God for a lottery win. God responding: ‘Meet me halfway. Buy a ticket.’ Hoping and hoping for something to happen is an utter waste unless you do something to help the process along. Putting faith in an outside agency, earthly or heavenly, to alter your circumstances by some miraculous process is a complete misunderstanding of what hope offers.

If you’re unhappy with your life, feeling lonely, empty, depressed, invisible – the dark and defeating feelings we all know – then by all means grab on to hope, but you have to start climbing yourself. If you wait for the rope to haul you up all by itself, you’ll be waiting forever. Use it to help you take the first step, and the one after that, and on till you get out of the pit, and you’ll get out faster and feel the stronger for it.

Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: You don’t give up.   Anne Lamott


2 comments on “Hope on a rope

  1. rebecca says:

    I like the Jewish proverb which is something along the lines of ‘God helps those who help themselves’

    • So that’s where it comes from… It makes sense – joke and proverb – it’s form of teamwork: your intention + your action gets a big boost from god/cosmos/whoeversoutthere. Not a bad deal, really.

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