Hope is a desire for something, combined with an anticipation of it to happen. It is the anticipation of something desired.
To hope for something is to make a claim about something significance to you, and so to make a claim about yourself.
One opposite of hope is fear, which is the desire for something not to happen, combined with an anticipation of it happening.
Inherent in every hope is a fear, and in every fear a hope.
Other opposites of hope are hopelessness and despair, which is an agitated form of hopelessness.
Hope is often symbolized by harbingers of spring such as the swallow, and there is a saying that ‘there is no life without hope’.
Hope is an expression of confidence in life, and the basis for more practical dispositions such as patience, determination, and courage.
It provides you not only with aims, but also with the motivation to attain those aims. As the theologian Martin Luther said, ‘Everything that is done in the world is done by hope.’
Hope not only looks to the future but also makes present hardship easier to bear, sustaining you through your winters.
At a deeper level, hope links your present to your past and future, providing you with an overarching narrative that lends shape and meaning to your life.
Your hopes are the strands that run through your life, defining your struggles, your successes and setbacks, your strengths and shortcomings, and in some sense enobling them.
Running with this idea, your hopes, though profoundly Human – because only Humans can project themselves into the distant future – also connect you with something much greater than yourself, a cosmic life force that moves in you as it does in all of nature.
Conversely, hopelessness is both a cause and a symptom of depression, and, within the context of depression, a strong predictor of suicide. Hope is pleasant in so far as the anticipation of a desire is pleasant.
But hope is also painful, because the desired circumstance is not yet at hand, moreover, may never be at hand.
Whereas realistic or reasonable hopes are more likely to lift you up and move you on, false hopes are more likely to prolong your torment, leading to inevitable frustration, disappointment, and resentment.
The pain of harbouring hopes, and the greater pain of having them dashed, explains why most people tend to be modest in their hoping.