Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Science of Hope

After reading this book, "Learned Optimism", I find that there really is a scientific basis and evidence that hope really does wonders in one's life and can mean the difference between failure and success in people's lives.

But the hope described here is not just a polyanna type of self-delusion. It is a real belief in yourself, (and for the Christian, that God will put all things well). Hope isn't just "Cheer up, things are going to be alright". There is more to hope than just a pithy slogan.

Seligman writes in his book what hope does and is. The first 2 P's are the most important, permanence and pervasiveness that flows from our hearts and into our speech are indicators of our hope in lives.

(They say you can't put a mother's love in a test-tube, but in the case of hope, he has a way to measure it!)

The 3 P's of our self-talk are Permanence, Pervasiveness and Personalized make the difference.

  • Permanence is the difference between temporary/permanent.

  • Pervasiveness is the difference between specific and general.

  • Personalized is the difference between internal and external factors.


"I'm all washed up."

"Diets never work."

"You always nag."

"The boss is a bastard."

"You never talk to me."

"It's my lucky day."

"I try hard."

"My rival got tired."

"I'm exhausted."

"Diets don't work when you eat out."

"You nag me when I don't clean my room."

"The boss is in a bad mood."

"You haven't talked to me lately."

"I'm always lucky."

"I'm talented."

"My rival is no good."


"I'm smart at math."

"My broker knows oil stocks."

"I was charming to her."

"I'm smart."

"My broker knows Wall Street."

"I was charming."


"I'm stupid."

"I have no talent at poker."

"I'm insecure."

"You're stupid."

"I have no luck at poker."

"I grew up in poverty."

Now, let's add to Seligman's findings with what the Bible says.

But as for me, I will always have hope;
I will praise you more and more.
(Psalm 71:14)

Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold.
(2 Cor 3:12)

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
(Romans 15:13)

Hope therefore means that we will praise God. Hope leads to joy and peace. Hope also leads to boldness. And the source of hope is the Holy Spirit.

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