Dr. Andy Yarborough
August 28, 2018
How to Foster Hope in a Hopeless World Part II
Welcome back! This is Part 2 of our 3 part blog series in How to Foster Hope in a Hopeless World blog.
Be sure to read Part 1 HERE.
In Part I, we started with the psychological aspect of hope. The term for this type of hope is mastery. As a refresher, psychological hope (i.e., mastery) is having a vision for how to move forward (i.e., pathways) and the motivation to get there (i.e., agency).
In addition to mastery, hope has three other foundations (Scioli & Biller). We will talk about two in this blog and wrap up the last one in Part III.
The first is survival, which is related to the physical aspects of hope. Survival’s connection to hope is a no-brainer. Hope’s essence is found in believing that we are going to live through a tough situation (e.g., cancer). Viktor Frankl, a Holocaust survivor, believed that as long as he was alive there was reason for hope. While the Holocaust is certainly an extreme example, the principle remains the same for all of us: life itself is reason for hope.
A proactive way to promote hope via survival is to ask yourself the following questions:
Question 1: Can I obtain what I need for survival (e.g., food, shelter, clothing, safety)? Yes or No
The likelihood is that your answer is yes. Take a moment and be intentionally thankful for what you have. Say out loud or write down the things for which you are thankful.
Thankfulness promotes hope because it fosters awareness of our available resources.
If the answer is no, I recommend contacting a local church, police station, or community-related office. Many communities have “community survival centers.” Clearly state what you need. Ask where you can find it. You should be able to get the resources you need to move towards hope in this area of your life.
Questions 2: Is it at all possible that I will make it through this situation? Yes or No
No matter what you are going through, look for a glimmer of promise...any light of hope. We are going to talk about spirituality and hope in the next blog, but know that faith can be a huge factor in situations that look and feel hopeless. As a Christ-follower, I believe that Jesus is alive and His life can be the foundation of all hope.
And let me say again: Thankfulness promotes hope because it fosters awareness of our available resources. For what do you have to be thankful? Find that light of hope, however faint it may seem. Hang on to it, say it out loud, write it down, and give thanks!
The second area of hope is attachment, which has to do with relational aspects of hope. Healthy attachments (i.e., healthy relationships) provide two things: a secure base in times of trouble and a safe haven from which we can risk and explore the world around us. Have you ever seen a child walk away from a parent in a new environment, explore, then look around to find mommy or daddy? The child probably has a healthy attachment because the parent serves as a security and a safe haven from which the child can explore the world. In adults, healthy attachment is the young person headed out-of-state to school. She may be anxious but she knows that she can move towards independence because her parents are supporting her emotionally (and probably financially) to do it. In marriage, healthy attachment is a spouse supporting the other to take that new job or go out for a “fellas” or “girls” night. Each example involves both security and safety.
Have you ever been in a discouraging, even hopeless, situation and felt comfort, peace, and hope solely because someone you loved was with you? I had to go to the emergency room a couple of years ago. Not a good experience! My wife was with me the whole time. Despite my failing physical health, my wife’s presence gave me security and created a safe haven from which I could ask the right questions and explore options for healing. I’m much better now. Her presence for me was hope.
If you have healthy relationships, use the same thankfulness skill mentioned earlier to increase your awareness of these relationships. Make an active effort to cultivate those relationships in your life. For example, schedule a time to hang out in the next week or two. Thank the person for being there when you needed him/her.
If you need healthy relationships, resist the urge to connect with people in unhealthy places (e.g., a bar, a club, Tinder...you get the idea). Identify 2-3 healthy contexts where you can look for connection. Write them down below. Some examples may be church small groups; community organizations, clubs, or events; etc.
Now, commit to connecting with at least one of these groups in the next 90 days.
While this blog scratches the surface of the depth of these areas, my hope is that you engage. Just engage. As you engage these areas in your life, you will begin to see how your hope impacts those around you. Please value the power of your presence to foster hope in others’ lives. Look for ways that you can foster physical hope in the lives of others. This may be through the provision of food, clothing, or shelter for someone who needs it. You can educate yourself about resources in your community and point people to these resources for help.
I want you to practice hope, not just understand it.
So, here’s to spreading hope to the world around us! See you in Part III as we wrap up How to Foster Hope in a Hopeless World.
McMinn, M.R. (2017). The science of virtue: Why positive psychology matters to the church.
Brazos Press: Grand Rapids, MI.
Scioli, A., & Biller, H.B. (2009). Hope in the age of anxiety: A guide to understanding and
strengthening our most important virtue. Oxford University Press: New York.
Snyder, C. R. (1994c). The psychology of hope: You can get there from here. New York: