Are you hopeful or optimistic about your future?
While it might seem at first that being hopeful and being optimistic are the same, I do not think hope is the same as optimism.
There are two current theories on Optimism, and they share one major element, and that is, both theories link optimism to an expectation of what will occur in the future.
The first theory of optimism is known as Explanatory Style and is descriptively explaining optimism by considering past experiences, the causes of those experiences, and how the interpretation of the causes of those experiences impact on our expectations of what is likely to happen in the future.
The second theory of optimism is known as Dispositional Optimism and it also looks at the expectations of what will happen in the future from the framework of a personality trait of confidence and positivity about future outcomes.
Whereas, hope theory is different. Hope theory focuses on our motivation and sense of clear pathways to achieve desired outcomes. Being hopeful about the future is that we can see pathways or opportunities to achieve our goals, and that we’re motivated toward taking action.
There are obvious similarities between Hope and Optimism. For example, our motivation will be impacted by a range of inputs (including expectation of future outcomes – covered in dispositional optimism and explanatory style), as well our needs, goals, and our sense of what will be the best strategies to achieve the goals (to name just a few influences).
One way to look at how hope and optimism differ is in the difference between the two comments…
1. I’m hopeful about the future (I’m motivated and can see a pathway to achieve my goal)
2. I’m optimistic about the future – (I expect a positive outcome)
However, being hopeful and optimistic about the future is one thing (or perhaps two), but it is holding ourselves accountable for taking intentional action on our hopefulness and optimism that will see us living and experiencing the future we are hopeful and optimistic for… a future with meaning in our lives and where we are happy, flourishing and prosperous.