Why Hope will never get you where you want to go
Hope is not a strategy.
Recently a personal retreat guest asked me in one of our sessions, “I’ve read your book and your posts and I noticed I never see a particular word in what you write. I never see the word “hope”. Do you believe in Hope?”
I had never considered this question. I had never noticed that I don’t write about hope at all. I loved the question. And as I answered it became clear that for me, I never hang my hat on hope.
It’s not that I don’t believe in hope. I just don’t believe in it as something that generates movement or a generative process. I view hope more as an emotion but an emotion I’m not attached to. The example I gave was, “I hope it will be sunny today.” (It’s been cloudy here for months due to the season.). And if it is not sunny today, it’s not going to have a major impact on how I conduct myself during the day.
What some others view as hope I view as aspiration and commitment.
I never ask,” What do I hope for?”
I ask, “What am I committed to?”
And the question I ask myself when I’m looking into the future is “What do I aspire to?”
And yes, I am attached to those answers even when they keep changing, which they do change over time.
The question “What am I committed to?” helps me focus my actions and decisions and moves me towards my aspiration.
I don’t expend energy on things that I’m not committed to or on things I can’t influence or control.
I love sunshine, but I can still move forward on a cloudy day.
I’m committed to developing myself and others so every day I intentionally live my life doing something that aligns to that commitment.
I aspire to bring peace and wellbeing into my life and into the life of others. My commitment is a way of creating a path to that aspiration.
But it’s not Hope.
If there is hope in this, it is in my hope that I will stay conscious, that I will do the right thing by me and others, that I will walk my talk.
I don’t always achieve this. I’m imperfect like every other human being. I have let people down. I have been selfish. I have hurt others. I have made mistakes.
And it is hope that helps me forgive myself when I do. Hope that I will be better than I was yesterday and realign to my commitment.
And that I will learn the lessons that life is teaching me because Life provides the curriculum for our development. I hope that I will continue to be a good student.
So I want to thank JF, my guest, who inspired my inquiry into hope and through this question helped me understand clearly where hope, commitment and aspiration fit into my life and work.
It is these kind of conversations that find breathing space here in Ecuador. I’m so thankful to do this work.
And thankful to those who come, courageously exploring their own inquiry, and allowing me to reflect back to them their courage and beauty.