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ANDREEA
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PostSubject: HOPE   Tue Feb 27, 2007 9:12 pm

Hope is a belief in a positive outcome related to events and circumstances in one's life. Hope implies a certain amount of perseverance — i.e. believing that a positive outcome is possible even when there is some evidence to the contrary. Beyond the basic definition, usage of the term hope follows some basic patterns which distinguish its usage from related terms:


  • Hopefulness is somewhat different than optimism, in that hope is an emotional state, where optimism is a conclusion reached through a deliberate thought pattern which leads to a positive attitude. But hope and optimism both can be based in unrealistic belief, or fantasy.
  • Hope is often the result of faith, in that while hope is an emotion, faith carries a divinely-inspired and informed form of positive belief. Hope is typically contrasted with despair, but despair may also refer to a crisis of faith, or otherwise an ignorance thereof. Hence, when used in religious context, hope carries a connotation being aware of spiritual truth. (In some religions, despair itself is considered to be a sin; see Hope (virtue)).
  • In Catholic theology, Hope is one of the three theological virtues, which are spiritual gifts of God. In contrast to the above, it is not an physical emotion, but a spiritual grace.
  • Hope is distinct from positive thinking, which refers to a therapeutic or systematic process used in psychology for reversing pessimism.
  • The term false hope refers to a hope based entirely around a fantasy or an extremely unlikely outcome.
Examples of hopes include hoping to get rich, hoping for someone to be cured of a disease, hoping to be done with a term paper, or hoping that a person has reciprocal feelings of love.
Hope was personified in Greek mythology as Elpis. When Pandora opened Pandora's Box, she let out all the evils except one: Hope. Apparently the Greeks considered Hope to be as dangerous as all the world's evils. But without hope to accompany all their troubles, humanity was filled with despair. It was a great relief when Pandora revisited her box and let out hope as well. It may be worthy to note that in the story, Hope is represented as weakly leaving the box but is in effect far more potent than any of the major evils.
Hope is passive in the sense of a wish or a prayer - or active as a plan or idea, often against popular belief, with persistent, personal action to execute the plan or prove the idea. Consider a prisoner of war who never gives up hope for escape and, against the odds, plans and accomplishes this. By contrast another who simply wishes or prays for freedom, or another who give up all hope of freedom.
Martin Seligman in his book, Learned Optimism, strongly criticizes the role of churches in the promotion of the idea that the individual has little chance or hope of affecting their lives. He acknowledges that the social and cultural conditions, such as serfdom and the caste system weighed heavily against the freedom of individuals to change the social circumstances of their lives. Almost, as if to avoid the criticism his book, What you can Change and what you Can't, he is careful to outline the extent that people can hold out hope for personal action to change some of the things that affect their lives.
In contrast William James strongly promoted the idea that prayer had a strong, positive effect for personal good in people’s lives.

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