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Why is hope important for human flourishing?

Strategic Advisory

Hope is a powerful emotion that can inspire us to overcome challenges, pursue our goals, and cope with adversity. Hope can also help us to connect with others, find meaning in life, and foster positive well-being. But what exactly is hope and how does it affect human flourishing?

According to psychologist Charles R. Snyder, hope is defined as “a positive motivational state that is based on an interactively derived sense of successful (a) agency (goal-directed energy) and (b) pathways (planning to meet goals)”. In other words, hope involves having both the motivation and the means to achieve one’s desired outcomes.

Hope can have many benefits for human flourishing, which is the process of achieving one’s full potential and living a fulfilling life. Some of the benefits of hope are:

  • Hope can enhance performance and achievement. Research has shown that hopeful people tend to have higher academic achievement, better work performance, and greater creativity than less hopeful people. Hope can also boost one’s self-efficacy, or the belief in one’s ability to succeed, which can lead to more effort and persistence in pursuing one’s goals.
  • Hope can improve health and well-being. Hopeful people tend to have lower levels of stress, anxiety, and depression, and higher levels of happiness, satisfaction, and optimism. Hope can also protect against the negative effects of chronic illness, trauma, and loss, and promote faster recovery and healing. Hope can also enhance one’s physical health by improving immune system functioning, reducing inflammation, and lowering blood pressure.
  • Hope can foster social connection and support. Hopeful people tend to have more positive relationships with others, as they are more likely to trust, cooperate, and empathise with others. Hope can also help people to cope with interpersonal conflicts because they are more likely to seek constructive solutions and avoid aggression or withdrawal. Hope can also increase one’s social capital, or the resources and benefits that one can access through one’s social network.

Hope is a vital ingredient for human flourishing. Hope can help us to achieve our goals, overcome our challenges, and enjoy our lives. But how can we cultivate hope in ourselves and others? Here are some suggestions:

  • Set realistic and meaningful goals that align with your values and interests. Break down your goals into smaller steps and track your progress. Celebrate your achievements and learn from your failures.
  • Identify multiple pathways to reach your goals. Be flexible and adaptable when facing obstacles or setbacks. Seek alternative solutions or resources when needed. Ask for help or guidance from others when necessary.
  • Nurture your agency or motivation to pursue your goals. Remind yourself of your strengths and capabilities. Use positive self-talk and affirmations to boost your confidence. Reward yourself for your efforts and accomplishments.
  • Surround yourself with hopeful people who support your goals and aspirations. Seek out role models or mentors who inspire you. Join groups or communities that share your vision or values. Express gratitude and appreciation to those who help you along the way.
  • Practice optimism and realistic positivity in your daily life. Focus on the positive aspects of your situation rather than the negative ones. Reframe challenges as opportunities for growth or learning. Envision positive outcomes for yourself and others.
  • Find meaning and purpose in your life. Reflect on what matters most to you and how you can contribute to the greater good. Engage in activities that bring you joy and fulfilment. Seek out experiences that challenge you or broaden your horizons.

Such approaches can increase our level of hope and enhance our human flourishing. Hope is not a passive or naive attitude, but an active and realistic one. Hope is not about wishing for things to happen, but about making things happen. Hope is not about ignoring reality, but about creating a better reality.


Snyder CR (2002). Hope theory: Rainbows in the mind. Psychological Inquiry 13(4): 249–275.

Bandura A (1997). Self-efficacy: The exercise of control. New York: Freeman.

Scioli A & Biller HB (2009). The power of hope: Overcoming your most daunting life difficulties—no matter what. Deerfield Beach: Health Communications.

Aspinwall LG & Leaf SL (2002). In search of the unique aspects of hope: Pinning our hopes on positive emotions, future-oriented thinking, hard times, and other people. Psychological Inquiry 13(4): 276–321.

Snyder CR, Rand KL & Sigmon DR (2002). Hope theory: A member of the positive psychology family. In CR Snyder & SJ Lopez (Eds.), Handbook of positive psychology (pp. 257–276). New York: Oxford University Press.

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