This page describes what hope is and provides resources on how to start having more of it, free from religion. Hope is not something you will get from a webpage, it comes from within but it can start anywhere, including here. This page will include a combination of philosophy and psychology to show that the kind of hope religious belief provides is possible free from dogma and superstition.  You can find meaning, hope and happiness on your own terms and within the bounds of your beliefs and values.

What is Hope?


intransitive verb
1 : to cherish a desire with anticipation : to want something to happen or be true (Merriam -Webster)
Humanism finds hope from the sciences, primarily the humanities. Hope is an emotion and/or state of mind that is hard to describe in words but this website will be primarily using the definition brought by positive psychology:

“a positive motivational state that is based on an interactively derived sense of successful (a) agency (goal-directed energy) and (b) pathways (planning to meet goals)” . Snyder, Irving & Anderson. 1991

In more recent research, Liz Day and her colleagues found that hope was related to academic achievement above and beyond IQ, divergent thinking (the ability to generate a lot of ideas), and conscientiousness

“It seems that performance can be enhanced in the short term by reminding people that they have the motivation and the means to pursue a goal”. (Day, 2010)

Shane J. Lopez in his book Making Hope Happen: Create the Future You Want for Yourself and Others says hopeful people share four core beliefs:

  • The future will be better than the present.
  • I have the power to make it so.
  • There are many paths to my goals.
  • None of them is free of obstacles.

He describes hope as “the golden mean between euphoria and fear. It is a feeling where transcendence meets reason and caution meets passion”. Lopez also distinguishes hope from other terms such as optimism. He notes that optimism is an attitude. You think your future will be better than today. But hope is both the belief in a better future and the action to make it happen. In other words, hopeful people pick good goals, know how to make them happen, and spot and seek out the pathways that will move them forward.

In summary the general consensus between professionals is that hope is a unique psychological function that can not only be studied but can be achieved through the use of various exercises and practices and hopeful thinking.

Hope Theory: ‘Hope is defined as the perceived ability to produce pathways to achieve desired goals and to motivate oneself to use those pathways.’

Hope Theory: Rainbows in the Mind. By C.R Snyder

Hope theory can be subdivided into four categories:

  1. Goals that are valuable and uncertain are described by Snyder (1994, as cited in Snyder, 2000, p.9) as the anchors of hope theory as they provide direction and an endpoint for hopeful thinking.
  2. Pathway thoughts refer to the routes we take to achieve our desired goals and the individual’s perceived ability to produce these routes (Snyder, 2000).
  3. Agency thoughts refer to the motivation we have to undertake the routes towards our goals.
  4. Barriers block the attainment of our goals and in the event of a barrier we can either give up or we can use our pathway thoughts to create new routes.

Finding Your Hope:

Purpose Worksheet: A Start To A More Meaningful Life


Pick your battles

It’s All Small Stuff

Let People Be Happy

Duty to Love

Acceptance and Action Part 1

Acceptance and Action Part 2: Assessing the Possible

Nature’s Power To Make Us Happy

A Bad Start is Still a Start

The Miracle of Life: Against All Odds

Meaning From Multiple Sources





What is hope? a psychological perspective



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