Hope and Optimism for the New Year

What are Hope and Optimism?

We’ve established that hope and optimism differ, but where do they lie? Hope is setting goals and following through on them, while optimism is a positive thought pattern. 


Hope helps people cope with difficult or stressful times and adapt to severe illnesses. People with hope don’t just wish for something good to happen. They have a concrete plan to make it happen. Hope has three components:

The ability to set goals

Finding ways to meet those goals

Being flexible and seeing the goals through


Optimism does not mean being naïve about life and expecting a perfect outcome in every situation. Optimism is simply a way of thinking about life, which includes the following beliefs:

Things will work out reasonably well

Even during troubles, life is still good

There is almost always a way to get the job done

Believe that we can improve life through effort

Maintain a combination of hope and optimism to support a healthy mind and body. Although hope and optimism are separate things, one is only somewhat as beneficial as the other. Someone who is optimistic but without hope could think everything is going to turn out great but has no plans to make it happen, or a pessimist could have a plan but no belief in their ability to see it through.

Famous Quotes:

“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment.” Henry David Thoreau.

“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.” Helen Keller.

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.” Nelson Mandela.

I love these quotes, but I particularly love and believe this quote from Samuel Beckett:

“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better. Samuel Beckett.”

“Hopeless and helplessness are partners. I do not feel hopeless unless I also feel helpless,” says Kim West, a clinical pastoral counselor from Payson, Arizona.

 Finally, a piece of Buddhist Wisdom says, “We are shaped by our thoughts.” 

The Buddhist quotation is closely akin to psychotherapy. People who are depressed think in ways that make them believe they are both hopeless and helpless. Psychotherapy helps people reshape their thinking to meet the inevitable challenges presented by life. 

As we begin the new year, remember these quotes and remind yourself that you are neither hopeless nor helpless. Please remember that many psychotherapists are ready to help you learn how to overcome the obstacles causing you to feel hopeless, helpless, and anxious.


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