I was shocked to discover that hope is not an emotion; it’s a way of thinking or a cognitive process. Emotions play a supporting role, but hope is really a thought process made up of what Snyder calls a trilogy of goals, pathways, and agency. In very simple terms, hope happens when:
- we have the ability to set realistic goals (I know where I want to go).
- We are able to figure out how to achieve those goals, including the ability to stay flexible and develop alternative routes (I know how to get there, I’m persistent, and I can tolerate disappointment and try again).
- We believe in ourselves (I can do this!)
I have always counted Hope as an important guiding principle in my recovery. Brené Brown, in her book the Gifts of Imperfection clarified my thinking on this. Basically, my adherence to Hope is based in part on a “glass is half full” mentality. I wholly attribute this state of mind to the extent I am living in recovery. Flowing from the trilogy presented by Dr. Brown:
- The one-day-at-a-time, process not an event, approach of 12-step programs has taught me to be proactive and solution oriented.
- I have learned to make plans but not be too terribly attached to the immediate results. However, I also know that I learn from results and am able to alter my plans the next time around. I ultimately achieve results that are more aligned with my true self.
- Belief in self is one of the greatest blessings in recovery. As I go through time, I am more comfortable in my own skin. I am also more confident in who I am and the vision to which I aspire.
Without question, this understanding of Hope is integral to my existence today. Without recovery, Hope goes out the window. And perhaps most exciting is that my understanding of Hope, leads to new surprises and opportunities as life continues forward.