A leading authority on the psychology of hope shares the secret of how to achieve a happier and more successful future.
Hope, writes Gallup senior scientist Lopez (The Encyclopedia of Positive Psychology, 2009, etc.), is a more dynamic concept than just wishful thinking; it is the ability to imagine a future goal and understand the steps necessary to accomplish it. The author uses many examples from his personal life, research and clients to demonstrate his argument that hope not only changes one’s outlook on the future, but also helps to shape it. Lopez begins with the example of John, a farmer who had become suicidal after being diagnosed with kidney disease. By focusing on the jobs that needed to be done around the farm, Lopez helped John to “futurecast”—to envision a future of his making. This exercise improved John’s emotional state and allowed him to delay dialysis as his kidneys started to improve. Lopez tends toward the sentimental in his examples: the young girl who survived two heart transplants and is now a successful college student; the entrepreneur, who, despite a failing economy, managed to keep his business afloat; the parents who turned around a failing school; the immigrant child who worked hard and found a future for himself that would have been unimaginable in his home country. These aren’t new or shocking narratives, and they often border on cliché. Yet, unlike some similarly themed self-help books, Lopez doesn’t claim that simply thinking something will make it so. Hope, by his definition, includes good, old-fashioned hard work.
Will not convince the cynical or pessimistic among us, but for those who already engage in hopeful thinking, Lopez offers positive reinforcement.