Why Hope Isn’t As Good As You Think It Is

thought provoking hope acceptance hopelessness Why Hope Isnt As Good As You Think It Is

What is hope?

The dictionary defines it as

A belief in a positive outcome related to events and circumstances in one’s life. Hope is the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best.

The Greeks even have stories about hope (and about the first woman) called “The Creation of Pandora” and “The Opening of the Box”. It’s like a Greek version of “The Creation of Eve” and “The Eating of the Apple”. Briefly, the stories are told like so:

Prometheus was a Titan who really liked humans. He helped them in any way he could. When he saw them shivering at night and eating raw meat, he knew they needed fire. But the gods did not allow man to have fire. They knew that man would misuse it and destroy with it. Prometheus was sure that the good man did with fire would outweigh the bad, so he stole fire from the gods and gave it to man.

Zeus decided to punish Prometheus with trickery. He called Aphrodite to pose while Hephaestus made a clay figure of a woman. Then he brought the statue to life. The gods granted the woman with many gifts including beauty, charm, cunning, wit, eloquence, deceit, skill, and curiosity. Then Zeus gave her a box and told her she was never to open it. Zeus then offered Pandora as a wife to Prometheus.

The Titan wanted her, but he refused because he knew it must be a trick of the gods. Zeus became angry and punished Prometheus. The Titan was chained to a rock. There, a vulture came daily to feed on his flesh. Prometheus’s brother, Epimetheus, accepted Pandora as his wife, and the couple settled down for a happy life. But Pandora always wondered what was in the box Zeus gave her. Finally she couldn’t hold her curiosity down anymore. She opened the box, and from it flew hate, anger, sickness, poverty, and every bad thing in the world. She slammed the lid down and managed to trap the final evil still in the box: hopelessness. So today, even when the going gets tough, every human still has hope.

Do you know something. I hate this story. Not only because I’ve come to realize that men throughout history have desired women and came to resent them for it (look for the hints in the story), but because I think hope, not hopelessness, is also an evil.

Yes, hope is an evil, and probably one of the worst because it deceives us into thinking that it’s not one. Hopelessness on the other hand is a blessing in disguise.

Think about it. Isn’t hope one of the most stressful things bestowed upon you?

When you find yourself constantly checking your email, Facebook, and/or Twitter account every five minutes isn’t it because you’re hoping some wonderful or life changing email, message, or tweet will come in? When you find yourself mad that your flight is cancelled isn’t it because you were hoping that you’d arrive at your destination on time? When you find yourself angry at yourself because you failed at something isn’t your anger derived from the fact that you saw (hoped) yourself succeeding? And when you find yourself angry at your boss because your pay-check is drastically lower than you expected isn’t it because you hoped they would pay you fairly for your hard-work?

I’ll say it again:

Hope is an evil. And  hopelessness is a blessing in disguise.

At first it doesn’t look like a blessing, it causes despair after all (I disagree with this, but I explain later on). But what happens after you fall into despair? What happens when you eventually get to that stage where you’ve lived in the despair long enough to realize that bad things exist in the world and are in fact a natural part of it?

What happens is acceptance. Hopelessness leads to acceptance. After you’ve learned that bad things happen on a more constant basis that good things do, you accept this. Once you accept this, guess what happens the next time your flight is cancelled? You’re not angry anymore. You’ve accepted that flights gets cancelled and that this is just a natural part of life. Guess what happens the next time you fail at something? You accept it. You accept that constant failure is a natural part of life, especially when you want to succeed at something, and that there is nothing gained from being angry at yourself.

As Seth Godin said in his new book Linchpin-

Hope is an attachment to a future that’s already perfect.

You’ve already planned in your head that your flight will come in on time. You’ve already planned the flight going smoothly. And, you’ve probably already planned what you’re going to do once you get off the flight.

When the flight get’s cancelled what happens is that your mind starts going in shock because the future you’ve laid out perfectly is now gone, and for a while your mind can’t comprehend that.

Now, what if you were filled with hopelessness the moment the flight was cancelled? Well, for one thing you would be acceptant of the fact that flights do get cancelled. And, in your hopelessness you might have even presumed the flight would be cancelled and maybe already have a plan B laid out. Ironically, leading you to actually get to your destination on time faster than having hope did.

And don’t think that this can only be applied to “flights being cancelled”. This can be applied to your relationships, your friendships, your career… anything!

I see hope as one of the worsts things one can have. An attachment to a planned out future which you have no control of (and which has a high probability of never happening the exact way you planned) is wrong. Just plain wrong.

In fact, if you think about it, hope (not hopelessness) is the true cause of despair. How could you be filled with despair if you already accepted that bad things happen?

Wouldn’t you rather be surprised that something fantastic happened, than be let down every-time it doesn’t happen.

Probability wise it makes more sense.

And don’t tell me that hope is what allows us humans to go on even when everything bad happens. Something does a better job at that than hope, and that’s acceptance.

Hope will allow you to perceive good things happening in your future, but when they don’t guess what happens; despair. You’re filled with despair because the wonderful world you laid out in your mind, isn’t going as planned. Then you just get back to hoping for an even more wonderful future (a never ending self-destructive cycle).

Acceptance on the other hand lets you go on in life, but not by letting you imagine your life turning out all nice and dandy, but by letting you realize that you can’t predict the future, that bad things happen in this world, and that through past experience you’ve survived all the bad things that have already happened, thus you can live another day to face the evils of tomorrow.

Acceptance let’s you see the world for what it is. Acceptance gets rid of despair (leading to a happier life). And acceptance can only be gained by first experiencing hopelessness.


cc2 Why Hope Isnt As Good As You Think It Is photo credit: h.koppdelaney

18 Comments

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  1. Mallone says:

    This is absolutely true. Whenever I feel completely hopeless, its almost zen like.
    I don’t give a damn about anything, so nothing bothers me!

  2. Zoeedy says:

    ‘ These are a few questions that, built up over time, helped me change my life for the better. Hoping I can make this journey easier for you, I’ve listed some of them ‘.

    Can you pick out a key word in this sentence.

  3. Basak says:

    i disagree with almost everything you say there. without hope u dont dare dream because then ur like ‘well it probably not going to happen so why waste my time’ hence the hopelessness. so u dont even TRY. yes bad things do happen, and while u hope u do accept that in the back of ur head ur flight may be canceled but you dont just ACCEPT something that hasnt even happened, because then u wud be trying to control it just like u said hope does.
    hoping is believing it might actually happen.
    are u telling me not to believe?
    because hope is the extension of belief wouldnt u agree? u hope u will get better from sickness, u BELIEVE. it will be ok.
    do u see what i mean?

    • Arsene Hodali says: (Author)

      What you’re saying/suggesting is that without hope you’re “hopeless”. Your saying/hinting that you’ll turn pessimistic without “hope’.

      I’m looking at hope from the same point of view that we look at love. The opposite of love is not hate (in this case hopelessness), the opposite of love is “indifference”.

      I’m stating that the opposite of hope is in fact acceptance. Although you’ll have to experience hopelessness for a bit before reaching acceptance, you will eventually reach it.

      Acceptance is different from hopelessness (what you’r saying) because it doesn’t base positive “or negative” emotions on “what will happen”. It uses past experiences to make a reasonable deduction (in this case an “expectation”) of what will happen.

      Acceptance will allow you to realize that the majority of planes take off on time, but that a delay is possible. Acceptance will allow you to make leaving on time your plan A (put the majority of eggs in that basket) because past experience has shown you that they do leave on time, but it also allows you to not entirely rely on it. Acceptance will allow you to realize that it’s not the end of the world, and that there are other options. There are other baskets you can put your eggs in.

      Hope I clarified things for you.

  4. Basak says:

    i disagree with almost everything you say there. without hope u dont dare dream because then ur like ‘well it probably not going to happen so why waste my time’ hence the hopelessness. so u dont even TRY. yes bad things do happen, and while u hope u do accept that in the back of ur head ur flight may be canceled but you dont just ACCEPT something that hasnt even happened, because then u wud be trying to control it just like u said hope does.
    hoping is believing it might actually happen.
    are u telling me not to believe?
    because hope is the extension of belief wouldnt u agree? u hope u will get better from sickness, u BELIEVE. it will be ok.
    do u see what i mean?

    • What you’re saying/suggesting is that without hope you’re “hopeless”. Your saying/hinting that you’ll turn pessimistic without “hope’.

      I’m looking at hope from the same point of view that we look at love. The opposite of love is not hate (in this case hopelessness), the opposite of love is “indifference”.

      I’m stating that the opposite of hope is in fact acceptance. Although you’ll have to experience hopelessness for a bit before reaching acceptance, you will eventually reach it.

      Acceptance is different from hopelessness (what you’r saying) because it doesn’t base positive “or negative” emotions on “what will happen”. It uses past experiences to make a reasonable deduction (in this case an “expectation”) of what will happen.

      Acceptance will allow you to realize that the majority of planes take off on time, but that a delay is possible. Acceptance will allow you to make leaving on time your plan A (put the majority of eggs in that basket) because past experience has shown you that they do leave on time, but it also allows you to not entirely rely on it. Acceptance will allow you to realize that it’s not the end of the world, and that there are other options. There are other baskets you can put your eggs in.

      Hope I clarified things for you.

  5. Becky Blanton says:

    I think you’re confusing “Hope” with “Expectations”….there’s a difference. You EXPECT your flight to arrive on time. When it doesn’t you’re disappointed and frustrated. Expectations are attachments to the future. Hope is an awareness of possibilities.

    • uhmm… hope is an expectation, so I agree with you there. it’s an extension of it.

      an expectation is a strong belief in something happening.
      but hope is a strong belief in something “desired” happening.

  6. I think you’re confusing “Hope” with “Expectations”….there’s a difference. You EXPECT your flight to arrive on time. When it doesn’t you’re disappointed and frustrated. Expectations are attachments to the future. Hope is an awareness of possibilities.

    • Arsene Hodali says: (Author)

      uhmm… hope is an expectation, so I agree with you there. it’s an extension of it.

      an expectation is a strong belief in something happening.
      but hope is a strong belief in something “desired” happening.

  7. Brianne says:

    Interesting. I agree with some points but I do believe that without a hope that certain things will go a certain way, you’ll never truly be prepared for the outcome you are hoping for.

    If I accept things the way they are, then I’d never want to learn anything because it will do no good to do so. I’d never want to go anywhere because it wouldn’t work out anyway. I’d never be prepared for anything because I’d never be intending for anything else to happen.

    Just my two cents.

    • What I see from your persceptive is that you’re staying in the state of hopelessness.

      Why don’t you want to learn anything. It’s been proven that increased knowledge increases other areas of your life. And take into consideration that when you learn you’re not hoping that you’ll get the knowledge it provides later on, your getting it right there on the spot.

      The hope comes from you thinking that the knowledge you’re consuming will lead to you leading a better/happier life.

      That’s why I read so much. I never expect for one book to change everything (it might), but probability wise the more you take in knowledge the greater the chances of some of that knowledge helping you later in life.

  8. Brianne says:

    Interesting. I agree with some points but I do believe that without a hope that certain things will go a certain way, you’ll never truly be prepared for the outcome you are hoping for.

    If I accept things the way they are, then I’d never want to learn anything because it will do no good to do so. I’d never want to go anywhere because it wouldn’t work out anyway. I’d never be prepared for anything because I’d never be intending for anything else to happen.

    Just my two cents.

    • Arsene Hodali says: (Author)

      What I see from your persceptive is that you’re staying in the state of hopelessness.

      Why don’t you want to learn anything. It’s been proven that increased knowledge increases other areas of your life. And take into consideration that when you learn you’re not hoping that you’ll get the knowledge it provides later on, your getting it right there on the spot.

      The hope comes from you thinking that the knowledge you’re consuming will lead to you leading a better/happier life.

      That’s why I read so much. I never expect for one book to change everything (it might), but probability wise the more you take in knowledge the greater the chances of some of that knowledge helping you later in life.

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