Sunday, October 02, 2005

Curious about Hope: How Important Is It? Is It Enough?

Ed Markey wrote, “Hope is the most important four-letter word in the language.”

And yet, Benjamin Franklin wrote, “He that lives upon hope will die fasting.”

I started thinking about the power of “hope” last week, when I noticed that a bunch of flyers had been posted around the gym by one of our personal trainers. They promised that if you joined her program, you could go down up to four dress sizes and lose up to 40 pounds. Notice the words “up to.”

Now, as a certified fitness instructor, I feel that if her promises are true she is doing or providing a program that is actually injurious. However, I realize that she is actually offering “hope” not truth. And, that the good part is that she may give clients enough “hope” that they will take the actions that will lead to smaller sizes and fewer pounds.

And, isn’t it “hope” that sells us on most of the purchases we make? We “hope” that a certain product or service will solve our problem(s). We “hope” that they will make us more attractive, will get us there faster, will make us smarter, or richer, or more respected - you pick it.

Let me remind you, however, that there are stipulations that come with “hope.” Just as Franklin hinted, “hope” is just not enough. Yes, I feel strongly that we need it, but I also know that just hoping that something will occur won’t accomplish it.

Webster’s Dictionary defines hope as, “desire accompanied by expectation of or belief in fulfillment; expectation of fulfillment or success; to cherish a desire with anticipation.”

As always, I searched for quotes about “hope.” Some were quite positive and hopeful, while others provided food for thought. Following are only a small number of the ones I found:

On a positive note:
  • Woodrow Wilson stated, “You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.”
  • Terence spoke with great wisdom when he said, “You believe easily that which you hope for earnestly.”
  • I love the following by Jacques Yves Cousteau, “If we were logical, the future would be bleak, indeed. But we are more than logical. We are human beings, and we have faith, and we have hope, and we can work.”
  • Samuel Smiles helps us smile with, “Hope... is the companion of power, and the mother of success; for who so hopes has within him the gift of miracles.”

And a bit of questioning:

  • Gloria Steinem uses the following description, “Hope is a very unruly emotion.”
  • While Epictetus warns, “Neither should a ship rely on one small anchor, nor should life rest on a single hope.”
  • And, Norman Cousins said, “Hope is independent of the apparatus of logic.”
  • Malcolm Forbes reminds us, “When things are bad, we take comfort in the thought that they could always get worse. And when they are, we find hope in the thought that things are so bad they have to get better.” How true!

So, what do you think and feel? I would love to read your comments!