hope is a function of struggle. … hope is not an emotion, but hope is a cognitive, behavioral process that we learn when we experience adversity, when we have relationships that are trustworthy, when people have faith in our ability to get out of a jam.
Brené Brown, interviewed for On Being
I have been thinking about hope recently. It started with a sermon on hope in January, which contrasted hope with optimism. Hope, I was told, is an attitude of faith that a good outcome is possible from a situation. Optimism, on the other hand, is an expectation that the best result will occur. Hope keeps us going today, and doesn't kill tomorrow when our most desired outcome fails to appear. Optimism can set us up for failure and disappointment.
When my loved one was still active in her alcoholism, and it seemed that sobriety was out of reach, I could have given in to hopelessness and despair. Instead, I chose hope. I chose to believe in the possibility of change for the better. I did not know when it would happen. I did not expect that it would happen. But by choosing hope over despair, by choosing hope over hopelessness, I was able to live my life, to be happy and joyful at times, to have serenity, and to be present and to continue to love her and support her as she struggled with her disease.
I learned something new today, listening to Brené Brown talk about shame and vulnerability leading to wholeness of living. I learned that my ability to hold hope in my heart comes, in part, from having gotten through past struggles. It comes from knowing that “it will be OK in the end,” and that “things will work out,” as a friend said in a meeting just last night.
A meditation for February 16, 2013.