Challenges prompt new desires. If in school, we want to graduate. If ill, we desire wellness. While dealing with a challenge, how much hope do you have? Does it even matter?
As a physician-survivor, I believe hope is essential to overcoming challenges and living well. But like a scalpel or a medicine that can heal or harm depending on how it is used, hope can help you or hurt you, depending on what you’re hoping for.
Imagine Joe, a young man who lost his job and, understandably, feels anxious and discouraged. Stopping at a Seven-11 to buy a lottery ticket can stir hope.
Back at home, with his lottery ticket taped to the fridge, Joe’s hope—a pleasurable feeling associated with his belief in the possibility of winning a million dollars——may be just the lift he needs to feel more hopeful, in general. Looking at the lottery ticket motivates Joe to answer yet another want ad and then get all spruced up for yet another job interview, hopeful of landing a job offer. These are good hopes to have.
But what if Joe spends his time sprawled out on the couch, alternately watching television and napping all day? What if he looks at the lottery ticket and feels so hopeful it has the winning numbers that he thinks, “Why bother answering job ads?” Clearly this hope hurts Joe by keeping him from taking action that sets the stage for success.
Tomorrow: Real Good News