Hope or Optimism

I’ve often been accused of being a pathetic optimist. I graciously accept the label. With one caveat.

I’d like to call myself a pathetic hopeful, please.


Optimism suggests a certain blind belief that all will be fine and well, no matter what. I don’t subscribe to that. I’m perfectly aware that a transatlantic trip with three kids for example is going to be something far from a hillside picnic. I’m perfectly aware that it’s more likely to be an apocalyptic stress-ridden saga that ends in tears and snot for us all.


However. I hope it won’t be. I have hope that the kids will happily watch movie after brain-numbing movie until we get there. I have hope the baby will sleep through most of it, I have hope that I will let go of my steadfast rules and discipline and let the story unfold, I have hope that I will turn a lousy situations into something fun, or funny at least.

What’s the difference?

It all comes down to the way our screwy human brains work. Hope for something sets up out expectations for that something. If my mind is ready and expecting me to laugh instead of scream when my son inevitably spills his juice down his pants, then when it does happen (yes, when!) my subconscious mind will ring a small bell saying: you’re supposed to laugh now, and it’s more likely that I will (it’s more likely that I’ll have spare pants in my bag too). Then my brain is happy because what it expected to happen, happened. And so it releases happy hormones and I relax and order myself a bottle of wine (that I perhaps share with the baby?).

Whether you want to call it optimistic, hopeful, happy-go-lucky or just plain lunacy, it’s been proven that people who are more positive are more successful, happier, healthier and more fulfilled.

The greatest part of it is that although we’re born with a certain tendency to positivity or negativity, we can all learn to be more positive and hopeful. Check out Martin Seligman’s book Learned Optimism for how.

Hoping you have a fabulous day. I’m planning on having one.

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