Some people have an extremely optimistic outlook on life, and they maintain their positive frame even under extreme conditions. Most of us however, are susceptible to unfavourable circumstances which affect the way we think and respond to situations.
Our attitude about hope is very unusual; almost unique. It oscillates between useful and useless. It devalues hope when it’s needed the most and appreciates it when hope has comparatively little to offer. Yet, we go on without questioning it.
So when all is well, and we have no worry or pain, we tend to have more hope, and use it frequently. We are optimistic in our dealings and choices. Our responses to minor setbacks are also somewhat positive. Our frequent use of hope in happy times implies that we need it, value it and believe in its utility.
However, under adverse conditions, when the going gets tough, faced with disappointing outcomes, we employ hope less frequently and become pessimistic in our outlook. Our belief in hope weakens, and we no longer consider it as relevant or useful in our situation. Try to advise a person going through a bad patch, to “be hopeful”, “think positive” and you will often get a strong, emotional reaction, as if you have provoked the person unnecessarily.
It’s like a person keeping a lifejacket as he sails, just in case. But when the boat actually sinks in the middle of the ocean, he throws it away, whining that he’s doomed and that “the jacket can’t prevent it from happening”.
Our logic about hope in frustrating conditions is upside down, and we must fix it. Because without hope, there is no hope.