The science – Cutting-edge science shows that being hopeful is a key ingredient to both achievement and high wellbeing.
The solution – Becoming more hopeful is possible, and hope provides many performance and wellbeing advantages.
A chocolate cake without coca is probably a crap chocolate cake. Likewise, there are many key ingredients to high wellbeing - perseverance, conscientiousness, self-efficacy, optimism, frequent positive emotions, passion, good social connections, inspiration, the list goes on. It is unlikely that a person will have high wellbeing if they do not have a bunch of these ingredients – i.e., they are not optimistic, passionate, they don’t experience frequent positive emotions, or have good social connections etc. In particular it is unlikely they will have high wellbeing if hope is not part of this wellbeing mix – try imagining a person who has good social connections, is passionate, and has high self- efficacy, yet is not at all a hopeful person. Quite hard isn’t it! Although many ingredients are important in the wellbeing mix, hopefulness is particularly undervalued and underappreciated in the wellbeing stakes – in my humble opinion...
More recently researchers have been studying hope – what it is, how to build it, and the impact it can have. ‘Hope Theory’ is a theory articulating that the concept of hope consists of both agency and pathways to outcomes. The individual who has hope has 1) the will and determination that their goals will be achieved, and 2) a set of different strategies, skills and strengths at their disposal to reach their goals. Put simply, hope involves both the will to get to their goals (agency) and different ways and strategies necessary to get to their goals (pathways), and hopeful people have a good stack of both of these.
Now for the good news. Being more hopeful is related to a range of beneficial outcomes. For example:
- Hope is related to goal obtainment. This is because it allows people to approach problems with a mindset suitable to success, thereby increasing the chances they will actually accomplish their goals. Another way of saying this is that life is full of obstacles and being hopeful (i.e., pathways) helps negotiate those obstacles and inevitable twists and turns of life.
- Hope is related to personal growth goals. People who are more hopeful tend to have learning goals – they are actively engaged in their learning, constantly planning strategies to meet their goals, and monitoring their progress to stay on track. For example in education, students with higher hope stay in school longer and get better grades, and in fact hope is a better predictor of academic achievement than IQ.
- Hope improves creativity. This link between hope and creativity makes sense because hope involves coming up with a number of different strategies (pathways) for obtaining a goal.
So the challenge is to foster hopefulness in yourself and in others that you’re frequently in contact with. Doing so will likely lead to multiple wellbeing and performance payoffs.
For more information:
Lopez, S. (2013). Making hope happen: Create the future you want for yourself and others. New York, NY: Atria Books