Why it is Always Better to Have Hope, Even Against Your “Better Judgment”

For the “realists” out there who write off hope as a useless hoax…  I am here to argue that hope is not only fundamentally useful but is necessary for our growth.

I acknowledge that hope does objectively involve a certain level of delusion, owing to the fact that it involves believing in what is ultimately unknown – the future.  But that does not mean that hope itself is delusion.  Sure, people who ardently believe that what they hope for is the only outcome that will happen may be deluded because they are failing to recognize reality, which is that it is impossible to guarantee that the hoped for outcome will occur or that things will get better.

But does that mean that one should not have hope merely because it is not infallible?

Absolutely not.  It is ultimately never certain exactly how life will play out, which also means that even the strongest evidence suggesting a given outcome is also not a guarantee.  Sure, it may be the most likely, but that doesn’t mean it is the only realistic outcome.

I’m often wondering why “realists” tend to be cynical and resigned.  Why is it considered more realistic to scoff at hope and adopt the belief that things won’t work out?

I will never argue that anyone should deny reality.  It is important to always operate in awareness and to see the world as it is, not to see a distorted version based on how we want it to be.

But hope is not a hoax.  Miracles do happen.  We may not be able to conjure them at the snap of our fingers, but unexpected, unlikely turns of events do occur in our world; there are countless stories proving this.  So why is this evidence so often discounted?  Why is it considered logical, practical, and realistic not to believe in possibilities?

Maybe instead of resigning to a cynical existence, we would be better off to have hope – with a grain of salt.

Perhaps it doesn’t actually matter whether our hopes will come to fruition or not; whether we are deluded in our belief of a possibility.  Perhaps the reason to have hope is that it qualitatively changes the experience of our life in the moment.  And the present moment is where we always experience life.

I recently auditioned for a local community theatre production of the musical Mary Poppins.  I had HIGH hopes for landing the lead role.  I mean, I was really into it.  I listened to the Broadway soundtrack constantly, watched the movie and all the bonus features, wished everyday on 11:11, and even tried to emulate the character of Mary Poppins in my daily life so that the casting panel would see that I was her.  I saw myself in the role, and I hoped for it more than anything.  Leading up to the auditions, simply having that prospect in my mind enlivened me and fill me with such joy and excitement. 

The key is not to pair hope with expectation.  In the back of mind, I was aware of the chance that I wouldn’t get the role.  I had hope + grain of salt.  And as such, when I didn’t get the role, I was extremely disappointed, of course, but I was able to accept the outcome without changing how I looked back on the amazing feeling I had leading up to it.  I had always been aware of reality (i.e. that there are so many factors going into the decision that are outside of my control and that my wanting it so badly (hope) wasn’t going to guarantee the outcome) but I didn’t allow that to prevent me from knowing what I wanted and going for it.

And, having hope at least made it more likely to get the role; it allowed me to at least pursue the opportunity and increased my odds because I had much more confidence and vigor than had I believed I didn’t stand a chance.

I don’t regret having hope, even though I didn’t get what I hoped for.

Hope changes your experience (for the better, in my opinion) and affects the actions that you take now.  It’s worth consideration.

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