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Hope: the compass of life

Hope: the compass of life

March 28, 2024

There are situations that can give the impression of extinguishing all hope of a better life and future. Losing the people we love the most, unemployment, losing physical functionality, mental illness, the diagnosis of a chronic disease ...

All these situations can cause a break with our expectations, what we thought about the future. Losing what we consider significant and valuable can contribute to our losing our compass, our way of determining what will take us to our goals. When this happens, we need new ways or strategies to achieve the old goals , many times taking a new address.


It is easier to have hope when everything is going well. It is important, however, to keep hope alive and continue cultivating it in the bad and difficult moments of life. That is why, in this article, I want to talk about hope, the elements necessary to cultivate it, and its benefits.

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The vision of the future affects the behavior of the present

Shane Lopez, in his book Making Hope Happen explains that, through his work and research on the subject of hope with millions of people, he has realized that the way we think about the future determines how well we live our lives . When we have clear hopes for the future we live well, when it is not, we can come to feel that it is not worth living.


It is then important to reconnect with a significant future, since this affects the behavior of the present. We can exercise and feed ourselves healthy because we want to have a healthy old age, to see ourselves well or to have a new relationship. Others can work hard to study and work to obtain the material stability, freedom or professional development they desire. We save money either for vacations or for other dreams with the beings we love. We invest in the present to reap what we visualize of the future. Hope drives us to act .

In turn, what we choose to do in the present creates and feeds hope or plays to its detriment. For example, the constant postponement of important goals can cause that with the passage of time the hope of achieving those goals falls because we begin to see more and more distant that desired future.


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The theory of Hope

For Shane Lopez hope is a state oriented towards the future . Our thoughts look forward and tell us what we have to do today. Our feelings elevate us and give us the energy to maintain the effort.

Also, consider that hope is a choice, can be learned and shared with others, is active and requires effort . In addition, Shane Lopez describes four beliefs that people tend to share with hope. These are; To think that the future will be better than the present and the past, to believe that you have the power to make it so, to believe that you can find several paths towards the desired goals and understand that no road is free of obstacles.

These beliefs are key in the elements that make up the model of hope described by his mentor, Rick Snyder. The process of hope is then composed of:

1. Goals

They are the objectives that guide human behavior . They can be short, medium or long term. It is to identify where we are now and where we want to go, what we want to do and who we want to be. Hope is built on the goals that we consider most important, that we are excited to pursue, that are clear, specific and realistic. It is a balance between thinking positive about the future and recognizing the barriers and effort involved in achieving them. It does not consist in wanting passively.

2. Agency

It is based on believing that we have an active role in the achievement of goals and influence on how our life goes. It is to know that Through the actions we carry out, we give shape to life, for better or for worse . It requires taking responsibility to improve situations and take responsibility for moving forward with the achievement of dreams. As we see the connection between our actions and good results, we also develop the ability to motivate ourselves and the ability to persist along the way despite obstacles.

3. Roads

It consists of being recursive. It is the perceived ability to search and generate multiple routes to the goals and choose the most appropriate paths, monitoring progress. It also involves being realistic and anticipate that obstacles will be presented at any time, which is why it is important to maintain flexibility and, if necessary, make changes in the plans and / or choose better routes towards what you want to achieve.

Each of these elements interacts with the others.A change in one of them affects the others. When these components are strong, hope increases; when one is weak, hope decreases. It is then when it is important to intervene to strengthen that element that is missing or that has not been developed.

When hope is not hope, but something else

It is important to understand that we are not talking about hope when we cling to the fact that things must be as we believe and want. Obsessing with the persistence of a relationship that is not healthy or that for some reason can not continue, is not to maintain hope, is a style of attachment. Likewise, it is persist in projects that have repeatedly failed or can no longer reach a successful conclusion .

Life presents situations that sometimes are not under our control, but hope gives us the message that it is possible to start over, that we have the capacity to do so and that our effort is required to achieve it.

We tend to think that suffering is bad , and that is why we try so hard to avoid it, even if it is inevitable. But, just as diamonds, which are pure carbon atoms, under conditions of darkness, pressure and extreme temperature are transformed into the precious stone, the human being is transformed through difficulty, annulling what does not serve him as fears excessive and useless or arrogance and developing positive qualities such as compassion and kindness.

Benefits of cultivating hope

High levels of hope they are associated with better performance and academic, sporting success in business and in the profession , greater physical and psychological well-being and better interpersonal relationships (Lopez & Snyder, 2009, Lopez, 2013).

Hope has an impact on physical health by facilitating people's efforts to become involved in disease prevention activities such as exercise, reducing the likelihood of engaging in risky behaviors and coping with and recovering from existing health problems. To himself, it has been found that higher levels of hope are associated with positive affect, greater satisfaction with life, greater perception of well-being and sense of life (Lopez & Snyder, 2009).

The hope it also influences the assessment and coping of stressors and obstacles . Research has shown that people with greater hope are effective in generating and using alternative paths to goals. This is especially relevant when facing barriers in the achievement of objectives or when there are paths that close. People with little hope are more inclined to use avoidance as a coping strategy (Lopez & Snyder, 2009).

Finally, people with high hopes are prone to form close connections with other people because they show interest in the goals of others not only their own, they also enjoy interacting with others and perceive greater social support (Lopez & Snyder, 2009).

In any case, we tend to learn a lot from the people around us and also to influence them. Fortunately, hope is contagious, so we can be touched by the hope of others and also inspire those who are close to us and thus contribute to the feeling of well-being, motivation, and mutual growth in our relationships and spread it to the world as well. We all know, you need it.

Bibliographic references:

  • Lopez, S. J. (2009). The Oxford Handbook of Positive Psychology. Second Edition. Oxford; New York
  • Lopez, S. J. (2013). Making Hope Happen: Create the Future You Want for Yourself and Others. Atria Books; New York

Carlos Vargas of Hope of Life International Thanks Compass Learning (March 2024).


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