Hope Leads to Action

Don’t confuse hope with optimism.

While they are similar, hope is not the same thing as optimism.

Optimism is a general attitude that positive things will happen in our lives, come what may. While hope can also include that attitude, hope is more specific. Hope is typically based on belief in abilities. And hope leads to actions based on that belief.

More you hope more you move

Consider this scenario:

A University of Kansas psychologist, C.R. Snyder, asked a group of college students:

“Although you set your goal of getting a B in a class, after your first exam, which accounts for 30% of your grade, you find you only scored a D. It is now one week later. What do you do?”

The students’ answers depended on their levels of hope.

  • Those who had high levels of hope said they would do more work to improve their final grade.
  • Students with moderate levels of hope also thought of things they could do, but they weren’t likely to do them.
  • But students with low levels of hope? They lacked imagination of any way to improve their grade. They surrendered to the D.

In real-life situations, Snyder found that levels of hope could more accurately predict freshman students’ first semester grades than their SAT scores.

Hope matters.

Hope determines our ability to persevere instead of giving up. Hope determines our next step.

The more hope we have, the more likely we’ll take action and succeed.

Researchers say that hope is a learned concept. Even if hope doesn’t come naturally, we can learn to hope. If we missed out on being raised in an atmosphere of hope, it’s never too late to pick it up.

For Christ-followers, our hope need not come from trusting our own abilities. Our hope is securely based on our belief in God’s abilities to deliver what he promises, which includes equipping us with what we need.

So to increase our hope, we grow our faith in God and in what he can and will do.

Then with increased hope, we’ll take increased actions. 

To practice hope, look for God. See him in nature, in scripture, in people, in experiences. Watch for ways he is at work.

Then exercise hope by following him there.

The more you hope, the more you’ll move.

* * *

Are you optimistic by nature? Pessimistic? I tend to ride the middle. Do you see a difference between optimism and hope? Please share in the comments.

This is my month of Practicing Hope.

Practicing Hope #Write28Days_th


13 thoughts on “Hope Leads to Action

  1. Stacey Pardoe

    Lisa, I love this study on the students who earned a D…what a vivid illustration of the importance of hope! I’m still savoring hope as my word for the year, and this writing blessed me deeply this morning!

  2. Beth

    Interesting, Lisa! I’ve never really thought about hope from this vantage point. It makes me feel like I should have had more hope back in those classes where I struggled. 😉 But like you’ve said, the best hope is placed in the Lord who has all the ability to satisfy, heal and provide! Hugs to you!

  3. Lesley

    Hope is so important – it really does make a big difference to our attitudes and our actions. I think there is a difference between hope and optimism. I’m not always optimistic about circumstances – I tend to imagine the worst and play over all the possible outcomes in my mind – but I still have hope, which I think is deeper – not so much about believing the situation will turn out ok, but trusting that God is still there and that he can work good even when the circumstances are bad.

  4. Julie

    The best definition I have read for hope is “holy confidence.” I think the word is used lightly – I hope it doesn’t rain, I hope I don’t get sick – and therefore loses its power. But true hope really is a very poweeful thing!

  5. Kelsey

    Amen! Hope absolutely does spur us to action. It’s hard when sometimes that action is… being patient 🙂 I lean towards the optimistic side generally, but I also tend to worry.

  6. Faith

    To me, optimism is a bit fleeting because you can have all the optimism in the world about say some blood work…optimistic that the bad cholesterol levels will be lower this year. But the reality of,the number might not be what you thought. hope is more powerful. It comes after having faith in something or Someone ( Jesus). It’s an assurance type of thing. We have our Hope in a Living God who then breathes hope into us.

  7. Sigrid Chu

    Hello Lisa,

    Growing up I was very optimistic. The older I got, the more pessimistic I’ve become. But I’ve always been full of hope.

    I love this post. Thank you for sharing!


  8. Carrie Ann Golden

    Your post have made me think about what I’ve experienced years ago when I learned I was going blind, and then losing my first husband in a car accident. I had all the optimism in the world but bad things still happened. But through it all I had hope (and faith) that somehow I would get through these all I had to do was take one day at a time, and keep moving forward. 🙂 I was tempted to just lay in bed all day, but hope kept me going. Thank you for this wonderful post 🙂

  9. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    Lisa, I’m so sorry I’ve been absent; I’m getting my butt kicked by cancer, and, more specifically, I haven’t been getting email notifications of new posts!

    Great thoughts here, and the study is interesting, and telling.

    Some thoughts…

    They tell me I’ve got no hope,
    that cancer’s gonna win.
    That kind of talk’s like selling rope
    to a hanged man’s kin.
    They wave statistics in my face,
    it’s fatal, sure enough.
    But I have hidden, lethal grace,
    the hardest of the tough.
    I face my demons every night,
    and at daybreak they’re still here.
    They think they will put faith to flight
    and drown me in my fear.
    They tell me that hope’s a fraud,
    but my bodyguard’s first name is ‘God’.

  10. floyd samons

    This is very enlightening and brings much more depth to a complex subject.

    Although it doesn’t seem to come to mind upon first contemplating, I think free will is the underlying subject, which you point out in that it can be learned. We’re not animals, we have intelligence beyond instinct.

    I’m a realist, but very much the optimist that uses life long perseverance to fulfill what it is I believe is set before me to accomplish.

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