Hope is something necessary to have in order to get up in the mornings, let alone face the challenges of the day. Yet so many people insist on living without it. I know I make it sound like people have a choice in whether they have hope, but the truth is that most of us really do. As with most virtues and traits, when we lose hope there are moments when we decide that it "isn't worth it" anymore, or we decide that the possibility of disappointment makes hope not worth the risk.

For many of us that have given up on hope, the problem lies in what we are insisting to hope for. When we are stuck in a marriage that isn't working, for instance, our only hope may rest in that someday the relationship will mend and you will share the marriage you've always wanted with the spouse you love. You may hope that you will finally get that promotion that you've always wanted at the company you work at. The truth of the matter is, however, that sometimes we can't always reach that ideal position we've invented for ourselves. If you insist that only one outcome can give you peace or contentment, then you really are leaving your personal happiness up to chance. If you can work with the disappointments that life gives you and create new goals and dreams when some become impossible or too costly, then you can even find happiness in situations you didn't expect, when your life goes in a way you didn't desire. If you are determined to work with your life, and not against it, and you are determined to work hard at it, then you have every right and logical reason to be hopeful.

On the other hand, some people suffer from depression or other difficulties that truly make finding hope, or at least feeling it, almost impossible. If you are one of these people then you need to do your best to find hope and work hard for it just like anybody else. For many this will still not be enough without additional help. You are doing yourself and your loved ones a disservice if you don't seek treatment through therapy and/or medication, and whatever works for you. Don't be ashamed if you need help as there is absolutely nothing shameful or defeatist about needing therapy and there is nothing wrong with taking medication to treat depression when you need it. If anyone tries to make you feel otherwise, no matter how much authority they seem to have in your life, you really need to ignore them and become determined to get help.

Hope is essential to leading a healthy, happy life, and if you want a life with any transcendence then hope is going to have to be the foundation of this search for spirituality and meaning. No matter what meaning, or religion, or cause you find, if you can't feel hope none of the benefits of spirituality will ever be felt. You may have found a source of transcendence that is a veritable storm of spirituality, but to you it will just be a storm on the other side of the planet if you can't see any good for your life and in your future.

Down below are some activities for finding hope. Use these as a guide, but if you are still struggling, look at the recommended reading or get help from somewhere else.


  • Work on Gratitude and Appreciation of Beauty: If you see more value in what you already have, and if you also see more beauty in the world at large, then it becomes easier to find hope in your current situation and negotiate different goals with yourself whenever necessary.
  • Work on Humanity: Some people are just going to be lonelier than others, but feeling connected with your loved ones and with others really increases your chances of being happy with your life. When you begin making priorities and goals based on other people, this can bring more hope and contentment than hoping for more material things (although, yes, people do let us down—if you don't love human kind, however, you can't truly love yourself).
  • Search Out Your Sources of Any Depression: The two activities above are described as a function of increasing virtue, but what you are really doing is working on problems with attitude or lifestyle that might be leading you toward depression. When you are depressed everything in the world is seen through a darker lens—and not a lens that sees reality very clearly, no matter how confident you are in your vision; working on the virtues above might not be enough if you are truly depressed. If you suspect this is the case, seek out your causes through careful self-reflection or outside help and then try to alleviate them. This could require healing the relationship of a marriage, learning how to budget better while making more realistic monetary goals, spending less time indoors, etc.
  • Write Down a Hope Journal: It doesn't need to be a huge tome. Start out by writing your goals and dreams, and why you are disappointed or encouraged by the outlook on each one. Be honest with yourself and find some goals that are unrealistic or not immediately necessary, and rewrite alternative goals (down in words) that you can find contentment with or at least consider acceptable first steps. As you go each day, write down your feelings and what you are doing to accomplish each goal. Make sure you honestly record your fears or disappointments, but also be sure to carefully record all the good that happened to you toward the success of your goals and in general as well. It's very possible you have a tendency to be a little too negative, and with work you can turn this around bit by bit.
  • Keep a Gratitude Journal: Like described in the Gratitude trait, keep a journal every day about the good in your life and what you are grateful for. You can combine this with a Hope Journal as well.
  • Share Your Dreams with Those You Love: If you can get the help and support of those around you, then it can be much easier to be filled with hope and cope with disappointment. If you need to reevaluate your priorities, then sometimes having an outside opinion can help. Just remember that the people around you are usually not professional therapists and are never neutral parties, so you probably shouldn't take some unnecessary criticism too personally or damning—just don't share that dream with that particular person any longer.
  • Find Activities that Control your Funks: Sometimes we are just more miserable than usual, and just like with anger management, you should find some techniques and activities that work for you to help manage these moments. You could try meditation, going on walks, doing a crossword, heck, even counting backwards from twenty. Everyone is going to have different preferred techniques.

Your Record

If you ever dwell too long on negative (hopeless) thinking without some proactive attempt to manage it, then mark yourself at "fault" for the day. Make goals based on the activities above. If you fail to follow through on them or fail to meet your goals toward feeling more hope, then mark yourself at fault.


...human hope is fragile. Through it, our life is nourished from a source that we do not possess, a source that exists only in our expectation. No matter how strong our hope is, a gap remains between what we have and what we hope for. Though we try to bridge the distance between the present and the future by hope, no human power can remove the waiting. This is our human condition. Ultimately, human hope carries an element of uncertainty.

Not so with divine hope: there is no gap, no space between the future and the present, because the kingdom of God is at hand and "God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying ‘Abba! Father!’" (Gal 4:6). Our Christian hope is rooted in the possession of the substance to be revealed, not in the expectation of a substantial gift to come. If we "have been raised with Christ...seated at the right hand of God" (Col 3:1), we have all that we can ever hope for—even if we need immense patience to wait for its revelation.

Ladislas Orsy | America Magazine | http://www.americamagazine.org/content/article.cfm?article_id=4519

We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.

Oscar Wilde, Irish Dramatist, Novelist, and Poet

Hope is the feeling that the feeling you have isn't permanent.

Jean Kerr, American Writer

Golden Mean

Pessimism, Negativity, Hopelessness

Recommended Reading

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope — by William Kamkwamba, Bryan Mealer

This is a book about a 14 year-old boy that was suffering from poverty and starvation and decided to build a windmill out of garbage and spare parts for the benefit of his family's farm. It is a very inspirational story.

What Difference Do It Make?: Stories of Hope and Healing — by Ron Hall, Denver Moore, Lynn Vincent

This book by the authors of the popular book Same Kind of Different as Me, contains many true stories about friendship, healing, and hope.

Love Must Be Tough: New Hope for Marriages in Crisis — by James C. Dobson

Although troubled marriages are complicated and require a solution best for the both of you, this book is a classic about trying to save a marriage when you seem to be the only one that is interested in saving it.

General Rules

Practice virtues daily so that they become ‘habits of the heart’.

Don‘t strive for perfection.

Never give up! Remember: even the greats have off days.

Rely on your intuition.

Avoid extremes. Strive to achieve the golden mean between excess and deficiency of a virtue.

Have fun and enjoy the program with humor and optimism.

Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all. Dale Carnegie