What makes some people more hopeful than others? Are they more optimistic? And if I am optimistic, does this lead to compassion? This was a discussion I had with one of my student interns who is trying to bring hope to a veteran who hasn't any.
Where does hope come from? When someone says, "I hope so" what do they truly mean? Are they saying that life is a crap-shoot, a gamble, and they are rolling the dice and hope the outcome they want will magically manifest? This is risky business and seldom will result in accomplishing a desired outcome. The bigger the risk the more likelihood you will suffer some negative consequences. Risky behaviors (drugs, alcohol, porn, affairs, self-harm) always end up with negative consequences, even if those consequences are not immediate or are suffered by others. When you throw the dice and take a risk, are you measuring the potential consequences, positive or negative, against the decision to follow through with the thought prior to taking the risk?
Before you ingest drugs, do you consider the effects it will have on your body, mind, or the people around you?
Before you have an affair, do you consider this action may lead you toward divorce or a break-up?
The difference between optimism and hope (in my humble opinion) is that optimism is rooted in a belief in one's own ability to handle the consequences for their own actions. You might think, "I can handle this" only to learn you didn't have the ability to handle it at all. Hope requires faith, but not in oneself, but in a power beyond oneself. Some people say, "Faith is believing without seeing." But, according to 2 Corinthians 5:7, when you have faith you SEE the possibilities, not with your eyes, but in your heart. You don't have self-confidence, you have confidence that no matter the outcome, you have placed the situation in God's hands.
"Whoops there goes another problem, Ker-Plop".
"And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."
1 Corinthians 13:13