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A New Theory
The "Blueprints" for Hope

The story of hope is much like the one about the blind men and the elephant, an old Indian fable put to verse by the poet John Godfrey Saxe. As each man grasps a different part of the elephant, they come to a different conclusion about its nature. One compares the elephant to a tree, another to a spear, a third to a rope, and so forth. Saxe puts it best:


Though each was partly in the right,
all were in the wrong!

The scientific literature on hope also evokes the image of working with a limited perspective. The major writings on hope, including those of psychologists, medical researchers, and philosophers can be sorted into one of four categories. However, like the story of the blind men and the elephant, each of these perspectives offers only a limited view of hope.

The four kinds of hope theories found in the scientific literature:

Goal theories: Hope consists of your belief in attaining certain goals.

Mindset explanations: Hope is a frame of mind consisting of a positive view of the future.

Coping approaches: Hope is the belief that you can get out of a jam.

Social theories: Hope comes from a close relationship that is loving and supportive.

Each of these approaches reveals an important aspect of hope. However, like a blind man who approaches just one part of the elephant, each view is incomplete and therefore misleading. After studying hope from many vantage points, including the great spiritual traditions and a century of scientific literature as well as classic insights offered by artists, poets, writers, and healers of various orientations, we have found a way to bring it all together.

Hope, the "Roots and Wings of the Soul"

Hodding Carter, the Pulitzer-prize winning journalist, wrote that, "Two of the greatest gifts we can ever give our children are roots and wings." In our view, it is really the capacity for hope that provides humanity with the ultimate experience of "roots and wings". When we shed the blinders of preconceptions, the full design of hope is revealed. We no longer "see in a mirror darkly" but instead look directly into the light of hope. Shining most brightly are it's "roots" in love and attachment as well as the "wings" that can lead us towards mastery and survival.

In the third chapter of our book we present our "blueprints" for hope. This holistic approach integrates previous insights with our own research. It includes biological needs and psychological traits as well as social and spiritual dimensions. We stress the importance of trust, support, and faith. A centerpiece of our theory is the "hopeful core". This powerful amalgam consists of the attached self, the empowered self, and the resilient self. These virtues arise when there is adequate nurturance of the hope motives: attachment, mastery, and survival.

View a diagram of our hope "blueprints."

Our "hope blueprints" are not as complicated as they may initially appear. It all boils down to three key human motives; mastery, attachment and survival. These are the ground plans that give rise to the "roots and wings of the soul", the emotion we call hope.

In our book we explain the relevance of each of the levels of the hope foundation. Here is a brief summary:

Motivational foundations: Every human being is programmed for exploration and adaptation, love and attachment, coping and survival. Moreover, because we begin with all three of these needs from birth, they tend to become highly intertwined. The most important result of this motivational interaction is the development of hope. Putting it another way, hope is the most important human emotion because it brings together our three most basic needs.

Endowments and supports: Both nature and nurture contribute to the early development of the mastery, attachment and survival motives.

The Hopeful Core: These nine traits reflect your capacity for remaining hopeful over the course of your life. They will also determine your degree of resiliency in this age of anxiety. Note that these traits form three clusters, the attached self, the empowered self, and the resilient self. The most hopeful individuals have developed all three of these hope-related trait-clusters.

A personal faith system: There is no hope without faith. However, notice that we do not restrict "faith" to religious beliefs. There are at least eight different faith options (there are more than 8 if you start forming combinations of 2, 3 or more faith options).

Expressions of hope: The first four levels of the hope blueprints reflect your underlying hope foundation. This fifth level captures the outward expressions of hope in the form of specific actions, thoughts and feelings.


Hope Tip #3: Evaluate your hope foundation

Your hope test results have given you one measure of your hope foundation. Our third hope tip invites you to look more closely at your endowments and supports.

Endowments and support:
Individuals inherit varying levels of need for power or attachment. There is also genetic variability in terms of stress tolerance. Some people are naturally calmer than others. Beyond genetics, your family and cultural history has bequeathed to you a particular measure of love and support, trust and openness, modeling in coping and self-regulation. On a piece of paper, you may want to note your genetic and social history in each of these areas.

Power and achievement:
     Genetic
     Social

Attachment and intimacy:
     Genetic
     Social

Stress tolerance:
     Genetic
     Social
























































































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