What does hope mean to you?

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –

That perches in the soul –

And sings the tune without the words –

And never stops – at all –

And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –

And sore must be the storm –

That could abash the little Bird

That kept so many warm –

I’ve heard it in the chillest land –

And on the strangest Sea –

Yet – never – in Extremity,

It asked a crumb – of me.

BY EMILY DICKINSON

Hope is a complex, multifaceted thing that is not easily defined or explained. It is a feeling, a virtue, a mindset and a state of being. Hope is universal. It is as fundamentally a part of the human experience as suffering. It crosses all human boundaries and includes all types of people. There is no person who has ever lived that has never experienced a sense of hope.

Hope is an expectation; an appraisal of a future outcome. It is the human mind’s ability to hold onto sweet and lovely dreams. It is our ability to imagine a future that is in some way better than the current state of affairs. Hope is holding faith that change will come and will bring things that are desirable. It is the belief in change that allows us to motivate ourselves towards improving our lives.

Hope is resilience; an endurance in the face of adversity. To have hope is to empower yourself in order to face the toughest of times and emerge a survivor. Hope is a desire; an expression of meaning. It is the holding onto the belief that there is something bigger and more important than you. It is a reason to go on that is beyond yourself. It is a connection to the other and to the world.

Hope is not the clinging to the impossible. It is not the belief that everything will be fine or that there will never be undesirable things. It is a belief in “making it through” and “achieving better.” Hope is not the chasing of perfection. In fact, hope is forever bound with suffering. For it is our suffering that draws out hope. When we face our most difficult challenges and our darkest hours; it is the arrival of hope that makes endurance possible. This beautiful little bird sings the sweetest when life is in its storms. Thus, if we are ever to achieve a state that is fully without suffering, we will also find ourselves without hope.

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