The psychology of hope is a relatively recent area of research. Traditionally psychology has focused mainly on people’s weaknesses and problems – on what was wrong, not what was right.
As Martin Seligman, founding father of positive psychology put it, psychology has been too preoccupied with repairing damage and disease when our focus should be on building strength and resilience, especially in our students.
Hope is essential to resilience, and survival. Although most positivity arises when you feel safe and secure, hope is the exception. If everything were going your way, if life were without challenge, then there would be very little that you would need to hope for. Hope really comes into play when circumstances are dire or when there is considerable uncertainty about how things will turn out.
Hope is not just an emotion. It’s about having a plan and the self-belief that you can see this plan through. In your role as a teacher or parent you are tasked with helping the young people in your care to envision their futures and encouraging them to strive toward their goals. The psychology of hope is critical in helping to motivate students in terms of their short-term academic goals but also in helping them to achieve their wider dreams and ambitions. By cultivating hope in these young minds we can help them to reach their full potential and build their resilience and wellbeing.