One study has found that the chronically ill may be happier if they give up hope.
'People who suffer with a chronic disability or illness may be happier if they give up hope that things will ever improve, suggests a small but intriguing study . . . Why? Because people don’t adapt well to situations they think are short lived, they hold out for something better, which can lead to feelings of dissatisfaction. “Hope has a dark side,” says Peter Ubel, MD, one of the study’s authors. “It can make people put off getting on with their lives; in essence, it can get in the way of happiness.” For the study, researchers from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and Carnegie Mellon University, followed 45 patients with new colostomies, meaning each patient had his/her colon removed and had to use an external pouch to contain bowel contents. At the time of the procedure, some were told their colostomy was reversible—that they would undergo a second surgery to reconnect their bowels in several months. Other patients were told their colostomy was permanent and that they would never regain normal bowel function. . . . Over the next 6 months, the participants filled out a series of surveys designed to measure their psychological well-being. In the end, those who didn’t hold out any hope for getting their colostomies reversed were happier than those who clung to the hope that they would some day be back to “normal.” About the upbeat group, Ubel says, “We think they were happier because they got on with their lives. They realized the cards they were dealt, and recognized that they had no other choice but to play those cards.”' (Time, 2009 Nov 3 -- CLICK HERE. Slightly more detailed version at U of Michigan site: CLICK HERE.)I’m into reality, not escaping into wishes. I’m into living in the present, not an imagined future. I’m into nonjudgmentalism, not judging things bad or hoping for a different state of affairs I would judge to be "better."
What commonly goes by the name “hope” – hope for a specific result – is nonacceptance. This kind of hope is no more than fear of the world as it is, or the world as we are afraid it may become. "I hope the bill passes," or "I hope I get the promotion" is not substantively different from "I'm afraid of the bill not passing," and "I'm afraid of not getting the promotion."
Debbie Hampton's blog asks: "What if it is the hoping that keeps us from finding peace and happiness?" She spent years
"recovering from a serious brain injury which was the result of a suicide attempt. Immediately after, my sons went to live in a different state with their father, and, without a significant other, I was left alone. Life was very bleak and painful, at first. Over the years that followed, I learned to reframe my thoughts and to see my situation differently."By neither "dwelling on the negative thoughts," nor "hoping for something different," she writes, "I was able to drastically relieve the suffering and pain."
"Right smack dab in the middle of the muck and mire of life, even at its very worst, it is possible to find happiness and peace because these qualities are in your mind. They exist in your thoughts ABOUT what happens, not in the actual happenings. Happiness is not in hope. It is in your thoughts and actions." (Debbie Hampton, "The Dark Side of Hope" -- CLICK HERE.)Psychotherapist Karen Krett has written a book, The Dark Side of Hope: A Psychological Investigation and Cultural Commentary. When an adult hopes for the impossible, points out Krett, genuinely useful steps toward getting much of what he or she wants may be ignored. (Krett's article-length reflection on the topic: CLICK HERE.)
Danielle LaPorte blogs, "give up hope." She suggests that we drop the word "hope" from our vocabulary. Instead of saying, for example, "I hope I'll get the job," she asks us to consider one of these alternatives:
“I really want to get the job.” (“Point taken,” says the Universe.)Concludes the American writer Henry Miller (1891-1980):
“I’m praying to get that job.” (Prayer is an action too.)
“I have done all that I can do to get the job.” (Yes! Stand tall.)
“I will either get the job, or I won’t.” (Precisely. Now you can get on with your day.)
“I expect to end up with a job that I love.” (Excellent! Open-ended and affirmative!)
(Source: CLICK HERE)
“Hope is a bad thing. It means that you are not what you want to be. It means that part of you is dead, if not all of you. It means that you entertain illusions. It's a sort of spiritual clap, I should say.”And yet.
Here we are in the season of advent (which started four Sundays before Christmas and continues through Christmas Eve). It's a time of expectant waiting and preparation. Traditionally each advent Sunday has a theme. The four themes are hope, peace, joy, and love. Does hope not belong on that list?
Does hope not also belong on that slightly different list in Corinthians: “And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three”? Peace, joy, love, faith, hope: these are the greatest blessings of life and the greatest virtues we could have. Aren’t they? What do you think?
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This is part 1 of 4 of "Hope"
Next: Part 2