Hope eases the burden of our weightiness – the surplus luggage of negative emotions we carry with no real prospect at the beginning of the disconcerting tunnel. While we all agree with the timeless aphorism, that, when the going gets rough, the tough get going, the fact is all of us seem to, by way of reflex, stretch our mental compass and radar beyond our present circumstance – most often without a valid reason. Call it human nature, or what you may. This holds the “looking glass” to the future, for whatever it is. It enables us, no less, to perceive the impending with renewed hope and vibrant optimism – even when things look bleak, or gloomy, if not impossible.
Hope has corporeal, emotional and functional elements; it embodies a purpose. It holds a sense of meaning— most often through our aspirations, resilience, vision, goals, and beliefs, aside from dreams. It modifies our infinite thought processes, powering the fulcrum of our self-belief, self-esteem and motivational prism. It prods us to withstand and surmount life’s myriad tempests; it also prompts us to keep at it, whatever the difficulty, and keep going ahead, with transformed positivity.
The philosopher Plato distilled the essence of hope with action and motivation. He conceived of actionable thought as future-directed — more so, because hope and fear are anticipations, and anticipations, in turn, are critical to action, or activity. They exist in everyone’s emotional and mental lives; they are not limited to the smart, or intelligent, folks alone. They reside in each of us, whatever our station, or standing, in life, irrespective of our background. When anyone thinks — be it the software engineer or the carpenter, the doctor or the plumber —about what to do, it is just by way of a norm of nature that they also imagine themselves in possible future states with amplified hope.
Hope is sculpted in different hues in Eastern and Western philosophy. The Oriental paradigm stands by the thought that hope is bondage, also illusion — of being present with what is present. This is not just freedom, but realisation, or conscious awareness. The attainment of the ultimate reality, or tranquillity, just when one perceives it, following that time one is fully with “what is,” happens to be the pivot. This is primarily because when anything is soaked in reality, one has reason to hope that something else could be better – since one would have no more supposed about whatever thing there ever is as being better, or worse, or otherwise. The Occidental frame of thinking allows enough room for a key logical distinction between actuality and probability. This is tantamount to signifying that “what is” may not be as good, prized, etc, as what could be. It also embraces acts related to the future, including one’s yearning for the good and the harmonious – which, at the moment, may just be a restricted or empirical possibility, yet something that could be fulfilled too.
For Aristotle, optimism was something quite like expectation (“elpis”) – the element that gets expanded with the term hope (“euelpis”), where “eu” stands for good and “elpis” as expectation, for a positive or negative future. Aristotle also quantified the idea with remarkable subtlety – which one cannot truly hope unless one has experienced fear. That is, if one feels impregnable, or full of oneself, one may not succeed. When one, likewise, can’t hope, there’s a possibility that one’s optimism may not be fulfilled. Well, the big point is, all of us “sport” our own favourite metaphor for hope. That there’s hope in the air with the ability to wake up each day with rekindled optimism.
(The writer is a wellness physician, independent researcher and author)