Living in the moment is an exception, not the rule. So why do we invest so much energy into a future we can't predict, control, or anticipate? It turns out our happiness may depend on it.
Living in the moment is an exception, not the rule. So why do we invest so much energy into a future we can't predict, control, or anticipate? It turns out our happiness may depend on it. There is something deeply biological about our ability, and our need, to control the future. Despite the fact that the future is precisely what foils our most carefully laid plans, we go on planning for it. An emphasis on future planning is even a vital part of raising children. A great deal of our own well being depends on grooming future generations to hope, to anticipate, to plan.This video is part of a collaborative series with the Hope & Optimism initiative, which has supported interdisciplinary academic research into under-explored aspects of hope and optimism. Discover more at hopeoptimism.com.
Some anxieties are essential, and for millennia they kept our ancestors alive. But there's another type of anxiety that we can actually do away with—and it's defeated via hope.
In this refreshing take on the utility of hope, Princeton research scholar Victoria McGeer explains that there's a difference between blind hope and practical hope. The latter means taking a clear-eyed view of potential disappointment, knowing that there may be failure, and then putting your anxieties offline by trusting in the elements that are beyond your control. Trust is a critical feature of human social life, and we're often obligated to trust in uncertain circumstances: trust your kids, trust that stranger, trust your neighbor. Hope, when done properly, can fortify trust, reduce anxiety, and actually give you the tools to cope with disappointment. This video was filmed as part of the Los Angeles Hope Festival, a collaboration between Big Think and Hope & Optimism.
Victoria McGeer is a research scholar and lecturer at Princeton University. She took her B.A. in Philosophy and Government at Dartmouth College and her Ph.D. in Philosophy at the University of Toronto. She specializes in the philosophy of language and more prominently in the philosophy of mind.
In 1992, she took up a position as Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Vanderbilt University, but took leave of absence shortly thereafter in order to do further postdoctoral work in Alison Gopnik’s developmental psychology laboratory at the University of California at Berkeley (funded under an award from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada).
McGeer decided to leave her teaching position at Vanderbilt in 1998 in order to pursue further interdisciplinary work as an independent scholar, and in 2000 was appointed as a Senior Member of the McDonnell Project on Philosophy and the Neurosciences (led by Professor Kathleen Akins). In 2004 she was appointed Research Scholar at the University Center for Human Values and Lecturer in the Dept. of Philosophy at Princeton University, receiving tenure in 2007.