Hopes and Wishes

Incubation: Hope

2 Minute Read

I had a very good provocation land in my inbox about HOPE.

“What is the difference between a hope and a wish?”

Fiona via Email

I wanted to share some research with you, and my definitions, as I did with Fiona.

On my second day on the project I spent the afternoon researching why hope matters. We talk about it so much, it feels quite vague at times, but what does it actually do for us?

Hope helps us to manage stress and anxiety, cope with adversity, and contributes to wellbeing and happiness. It motivates a positive action in us. It promotes confidence and courage, which can be seen as fundamental survival techniques. It can even make people believe they can give greater meaning to their lives (Arnaud, et al, 2010). It feels like pretty powerful stuff! And it is seen as a key achievement before people can be happy: “you have to knock down the hope domino to get to the happiness domino” (Lopez, 2009).

Most psychologists prefer the definition created by Charles R. Snyder, a psychologist and researcher, who says it has three components: goals, agency, and pathways.

“Put simply, agency is our ability to shape our lives — the belief that we can make things happen, and the motivation to reach a desired outcome. The pathways are how we get there — the routes and plans that allow us to achieve the goal, whether that’s adopting a child, finding a better job, surviving a hurricane or just losing a few pounds.” (Weir, 2013)

The trick with hope is it seems to be based on specific goals, and for me it takes an analysis of your current situation that hope can lead you through – like a getting a looking out across a landscape and reading your journey through it.

Optimism is the general feeling that good things will happen.
Wishing is an escape from reality.
Hope is using reality to get to the good things.

There’s a definition on google that says despite them both meaning “a desire to change”, a hope is likely to happen, but a wish is unlikely to happen.

I hope Tom gets better.
I wish I can be in the Twilight movies.

I like the idea that hope is an engagement with reality (here’s what I’ve got, and here’s how I can journey to where I want to be), and a wish is a disconnect from reality that ignores the journey between now and the desired place.

Big goals are what get us up in the morning, they flood us with motivation to achieve the little tasks that will lead us to our hopes.

Sometimes I think it can be hard to know where a hope ends, and a wish begins…

Social support from relationships with other people is a key part of hope. It is remarkable how “the antithesis of hope is feeling invisible and psychologically alone” (Allen, 2013). That is a key part of this project for me: to connect people in their hope at a time when we are all isolated. I hope that through this project we can make ourselves visible; through our words, our emotions, and our hopes. I hope it provokes conversations between us and our loved ones about hope. For me, hope is the most valuable resource we have just now.

Further Reading:

Incubation: Hope
Created by Nicholas Barton-Wines
This project is part of Incubation, in association with Nicholas Barton-Wines, Amy
 and Harry Josephine Giles
Produced by Stephanie Katie Hunter
Supported by Creative Scotland
In development