Hope and despair exist on a spectrum — here's how to move toward hope

Hope is not as soft or as passive an emotion as we think. Here's how 'The Shawshank Redemption' can teach us the philosophy and function of hope as a response to possibility.

Hope's reputation is so good, it's bad. People hear the word and dismiss it as Hallmark, doe-eyed, emotional fluff. But hoping is not the same as dreaming or wishing: it is constrained by rationality, and unlike fantasy the possibility has to exist, even if the odds are slim. As Professor Andrew Chignell explains: you can wish the weather had been nicer yesterday, but you can't hope it. Hope is a spectrum of how you react to possibility, and it runs all the way to despair. Here, Chignell explains his latest research in philosophy, mindfulness, and uses The Shawshank Redemption to illustrate how closely hope and despair are related. 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.

Sponsored

Hey Bill Nye! What If Life Had Evolved From Viruses?

Evolutionary biologists generally agree that humans evolved from a bacteria-like ancestor, rather than a viral one. But what if we're chemically connected?

What would life look like if it had evolved from viruses instead of bacteria? Maybe it’s what you see in the mirror, jokes Bill Nye – before setting the record straight. Most evolutionary biologists agree that bacteria-like organisms are the ancestors of humans. About two billion years ago, eukaryotes forked off from bacteria, eventually giving shape to humans, animals, plants and fungi. It’s anyone’s guess what kind of organism you’d get from the evolution of viruses but, says Nye, it’s very reasonable that there is a common chemical ancestor for both viruses and bacteria, and if someone wanted to roll up their sleeves, it would be possible to prove it. Bill Nye's most recent book is Unstoppable: Harnessing Science to Change the World.

Keep reading Show less
Surprising Science

Astronomers Discover the Source of Mystery Radio Waves from Deep Space

Astronomers trace the origin of repeating radio bursts from deep space to a dwarf galaxy 3 billion light years away.

Astronomers traced the source of a series of puzzling bursts of radio waves, which last just milliseconds, to a dwarf galaxy more than 3 billion light years away.

Keep reading Show less
Surprising Science

Are You a Genius? Depends on Your Gender

A new study from Cornell University shows how metaphors influence our ability to be impressed by genius and uncovers a gender hook – it seems we prefer to conceive of male genius as an exciting idea explosion, and female genius as a long, hard labor of hard work. 

Is genius the result of nurturing an idea, or being struck by one? Well, it depends on your gender.

Keep reading Show less
Surprising Science

Study: How You React to Facebook Likes Is Linked to Self-Esteem

Have you ever refreshed your social media page, tallying each new like or lamenting that there are none? A new study reveals what that says about your self-esteem and your sense of purpose.

There are nearly 4.5 billion likes generated daily on Facebook, with half of all users liking at least one post every day, according to the Pew Research Center. And as most people who ever posted a photo on Facebook can attest, getting likes feels good while being ignored by all your online friends can be potentially depressing. Now a new study sheds more light on how all these likes make us feel, finding that those with a sense of purpose are less likely to be affected. 

Keep reading Show less
Culture & Religion