The quote “It is better to travel hopefully, than to arrive” is attributed to Robert Louis Stevenson. And the other part of the quote is “And the true success is to labour.”
The Buddha is quoted as having said “It is better to travel well than to arrive” though some believe this is a fake quote and the Tao asserts the journey is the reward.
I bring this up because I have been writing a lot about ‘hope’ and my views on this are contrarian.
I do not believe that ‘giving someone hope’ is necessarily a kind thing to do.
Lets say you are working with someone who is really destitute and hammered by the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.
She is desperate and demoralized and you point out a rosier future to her and say this is possible and here is how she can get there.
And there is now meaning in her life and she strives hard and turns her life around and becomes a productive member of society.
But life does not always work to plan. What happens if she works hard but fate decrees that she remains where she is or even slips further down?
Some would say that you should not give persons ‘false hope’ and you can now go into endless contortions trying to decide what is ‘false hope’ and what is ‘true hope’ and there are plenty of anecdotes and Horatio Alger stories and also cautionary tales about the reverse.
The problem is that ‘hope’, by definition, is about something that will happen in the future.
When you pin your well being on that, you automatically miss the present and live in the ‘if-then’ model.
This model says that you will be happy if something happens.
If you get a bigger house, a better spouse, a kinder boss, become CEO, your in-laws move to Australia…
The ‘if-then’ model is fundamentally broken. It is false. It does not work.
Look at your own life. How many times have you really wanted something… and you got it?
You were thrilled for a day or a week or a month and then it simply became part of the background of your life.
So let’s try a different model.
You encourage the destitute person to look at her life and envision a better future and work towards it.
But you help her understand that she may or may not get there and not to let her emotional well-being be dependent on ‘getting there.’ The ‘trying’ is it’s own reward and can bring its own joy if you allow it to.
That is the key – it will bring delight into your life if you can refrain from being pinned to your ‘hope’ for tomorrow.
This is a learnable skill. It is also a teachable skill if someone is ready to listen.
Try it and let me know how it works in your life.