I have learned through study, research, and the practical experience of living that one of the key ingredients for living a happy, meaningful, successful life is to cultivate hope as a positive individual trait that leads to flourishing (Chapter 16).
Hope refers to people’s expectations that their goals can be achieved in the future. Hope as a concept is similar to the notion of optimistic thinking. Hope and hopeful thinking have two basic qualities: pathways thinking and agentic thinking. Pathways thinking is when an individual believes that it is possible to produce one or more ways to achieve a goal.
It is a mindset that believes there is always an alternate route, or a plan “B” when faced with an obstacle while pursuing a goal. Agentic thinking is a type of thinking that energizes and motivates an individual to continue to pursue their goals. A person’s motivation is combined with the generation of alternate pathways to goal attainment to create what has been termed as “way power”. Hopeful persons have more positive emotions.
They also have more positive expectations about their future and their ability to manage stressful circumstances which may arise. Hopeful people are also more flexible in their thinking which makes them very creative and active problem-solvers. They also enjoy much social support as others are drawn to the positive emotions they display.
I have tried to do this repeatedly in my life and most recently when I discovered that I may no longer be eligible for federal financial aid to cover the expense of my college education.
I was informed by a Financial Aid advisor that due to having too many withdraws on my academic record that I would not be eligible for continuation of my financial aid unless I submitted an appeal to the College for reinstatement of my aid and it was approved by a review committee.
My first thought was to simply not register for classes, because the appeal process seemed too complicated and I assumed it would not get approved. However, I decided to remain hopeful, look for alternative pathways to pursue my academic goals, and work through the problem instead of giving up.
I developed a plan to develop a very solid appeal package. My plan included using a tutor in the Writing Center to help me write a very clear and persuasive appeal letter. Then, as I began to start complaining to myself and others about what I perceived as being an unfair financial aid policy and an appeal process that I considered unnecessarily complicated, I made a conscious effort to accept the reality of my circumstance and focus my time and energy on problem-solving.
Finally, I used the situation as a learning experience. I reviewed carefully the attitudes and actions that allowed me to be placed in a situation where my financial aid was jeopardized. Additionally, in the event that my appeal was denied, I spoke to my boss about the possibility of working some additional hours to help me pay for at least one class so I could continue to make progress toward my goals.
I also revised my resume in the event that I would need to look for a second part-time job. In the end, I felt good that I was taking proactive steps towards overcoming my financial obstacle and that I maintained a hopeful, optimistic mindset. I had “way power”.