Thursday, 24 October 2013

Hope… Our Reset Button!

Hope, the word and the emotion, is such an inherent part of our way of thinking and being that we rarely notice how much of our behaviour and actions are based on it. Just for fun, record how many times in one day, you have hoped, were hopeful, lived in hope, and used the word hope in your thoughts and in conversation.

On opening our eyes in the morning, our first lucid thought is about hope: ‘hope it’s going to be a great day’; hope it won’t rain’; hope there is not too much traffic on the way to work’; and hope continues to show up throughout the day: It permeates and transcends all aspects of our life…..from hoping for a better life, to getting better, to hoping for the one, more money, better job, new car, and on and on.

This is because hope is intrinsic to our basic survival instinct and is fundamental to surviving anything. We don’t have to learn to have hope or to be hopeful; we just know how to hope, instinctively. When all else fails, there is always hope.
As humans we do hope very well.

Hope fulfils our need for instant gratification. When we feel down, some small incident, random thought or word, gives us hope that things may turn around, and in a split second our mood lifts and we are able to look forward with hope and make plans that hopefully things will work out.

In business, hope is a natural sales and marketing tool. Let’s face it, when we are pitching our products and services to potential clients, we are for all intents and purposes selling hope. People want and will buy hope. They may not necessarily want solutions – but rather they buy into the hope that something can be done to solve their problems/issues/pain. Consider the first time Obama was elected US president; the campaign that won him the US presidency, was based on “Hope and Change “.
Yes, hope sells.

Why do we jump head first into business deals relationships, partnerships, friendships that we know are illogical or improbable?

Well, when someone sells us hope or gives us hope, no matter how illogical or improbable the end result is or that we may end up getting hurt or losing lots of money, most of us will jump, eyes wide open, on to that band wagon.
We don’t question hope, we just do.

Hope also relives us of accountability, while giving us the illusion that we are in control of a situation. It provides us a way out when things don’t work out as we hoped that they would.  More often than not, we place the onus, on the person or thing, we have pinned our hopes on.

The thing about hope is that it gives birth to other emotions like trust and faith, two very close cousins of hope. For example, we put our trust in someone or something, hoping for the best, and we have faith that things will hopefully work out.

Hope is a fundamental and necessary gateway to our other emotions:
Trust: the sum of Hope + Desire/Need. We trust in something or someone when we are hoping they/it will give us what we desire/need.
Certainty: hope on steroids;                                                  
Prayer: a litany of hope;
Inspiration: Hope + Creativity compel us to change our circumstances and ourselves;

Hope is a pure and a very powerful emotion, one that we create effortlessly; yet paradoxically it can also be toxic when hope is false or unrealistic. Devoid of hope, we open the floodgates to despair, helplessness and anguish.

As a mechanism that allows us to replace fear and anguish with courage and determination. Hope also allows us to reset our expectations and face our tomorrows with a degree of optimism, regardless of how grim and terrible our circumstances are today.

Luciana Cousin- July 2013

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