Have high hopes for greater happiness, better health and prosperity

Hands held up to the sunWant to be happier and healthier? Be hopeful. Dr. Allan K. Chalmers was on the right track when he said: “The grand essentials of happiness are: something to do, something to love, and something to hope for”, as studies have found that hope is a key to good health, a predictor of a meaningful existence, an indicator of athletic and academic performance and more. Those of us with high hope are likely to be happier, healthier and more successful than those of us with less hope.

Louise Danielle Palmer wrote an article about hope in volume 22 number 8 of the magazine Wellness News published in September 2007. Below are some of her key points.

Dr. Anthony Scioli, Professor of Psychology at Keene State College in New Hampshire, USA, has studied hope for over 10 years. Scioli and colleagues found that hopeful people tend to be more trusting, open, resilient and motivated than those less hopeful.

Scioli studied the importance of hope, age, and gratitude as predictors of well being. Three different scales were used on 75 people aged between 18 and 65. The results showed that a high level of hope was the most powerful predictor of well being.

In another study Scioli showed a group of young adults a 10-minute clip from the movie Philadelphia, in which Tom Hanks plays a man dying from AIDS. Scioli then gave them a questionnaire to measure their fear of dying and death. Anxiety about death spiked in low scorers of hope, but didn’t spike in high scorers.

In 2006 Scioli studied 12 thyroid cancer patients. He found that the hopeful ones had better health, and were less distressed and worried about their health than those less hopeful. The sample was small, so Scioli added HIV-positive people to the study. He got the same results, and HIV-positive people were also in less denial about their condition.

C.R. Snyder, a pioneering researcher of hope, developed a Hope Scale – a tool to measure our level of hope. The results of 10 years of studies using this scale found people with low hope had ambiguous goals that they worked towards one at a time. People with high hope, however, pursued five or six goals at once. Hopeful people had preferred ways to achieve their goals and alternate ideas if problems occurred; low hope people did not.

Snyder commented about depressed senior citizens who were taught how to be more hopeful. He said: “As they became more hopeful, they became more grateful…and more likely to experience joy.” They learned to “accentuate the positive”, and laugh at themselves and others.

Other research has found that hope is vital for success and aging well. Hopeful people have higher self esteem, take better care of themselves, and can tolerate pain better than less hopeful people.

So how can we be more hopeful? Read Snyder’s books about hope, such as The Psychology of Hope and The Handbook of Hope.

Visit Dr. Scioli’s website called GainHope.com – “a site devoted to a better understanding of hope.” On the Home Page it says:

“If you would like to know what hope is, where it comes from, how it develops, and why it sometimes fades, then you have found the right place.”

“Our message is simple – hope matters. In fact, it can be argued that the most profound expressions of the human spirit derive from hope. The greatest works of art and the best books as well as the most enduring wonders of the ancient world, as well as the Olympics, Baseball, and Soccer – all of these human achievements share a common denominator – they bring more hope into the world.”

Hope “brings light into times of darkness and uncertainty.” It “is, in essence, a way of being.”
– Louise Danielle Palmer

References:
Palmer, L D, Sept 2007, Growing Hope, Wellness News, Vol. 22, No. 8, 16-17,
https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:ujVBrXTCE4QJ:www.cancersupportwa.org.au/files/news_240.pdf+louise+danielle+palmer+2007+hope+wellness+news+volume+22&hl=en&gl=au&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESgPZjeE9t2mnoeNOh1pnd0q-G47e8PCZSgsmBuL1fS541igmKXCoy4-vouqDI8vGM4bpy34pcCN_cPL1vUPMv_IoyWE7jsuvtmTDLIwuFh5bXozlvOuFFHvP0H3_J9fpLAHn-1S&sig=AHIEtbTUSAxqnCtehRnq56j6uJFKgzNOxA

Scioli, A, n.d., A Place for Hope in the Age of Anxiety, GainHope.com,
http://www.gainhope.com/hope/default.cfm

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