hope: radical, daring, dangerous

in the mary karr episode of on being, one part that stuck with me (among many others) was about hope.

karr mentioned that in a world that is as crazy as ours, it’s much more radical, much more daring, much more dangerous way to have hope than to not. i touched on this a little bit in a post i wrote yesterday, but it really comes down to this: your worldview shapes your actions. if your worldview is pessimistic, you behave in the world in a negative way. if your world view is hopeful, you act accordingly.

this, of course, doesn’t mean that bad things won’t happen to hopeful people and good things won’t happen to pessimistic people. but, as i learned from a study cited inĀ resilience, ways of being and thinking can be contagious and the spread of emotions can be modeled in similar ways to tracking disease spread. so then, regardless of which way you’re being, even your smallest actions can have a positive impact on your community over time, thereby creating a positive feedback loop of your intentions. when other people notice and experience your hopefulness, it can impact their ways of thinking and being, bringing about more positive actions, etc.

now, the reason to be pessimistic, obviously, is to minimize disappointment when things don’t well. it’s much easier to avoid the pain of loss when you expected things to go poorly in the first place. however, in karr’s language, the tricky thing about having hope is that it creates both lower lows and higher highs. the disappointment when things go poorly will be very real. but on the other hand, opening yourself up to the possibility of things going really well creates such benefits sometimes that it can be worth it to experience the pain.

i’ve thought for a long time that living a full life and living a safe life are somewhat opposites. the greater your emotional range, the happier and sadder you can be. and that’s actually a good thing. staying close to the mid-line seems boring.