How to reconcile hope with failure

Living the life of an optimist, or one naturally filled with hope, how do you continually reconcile a seemingly never-ending barrage of disappointment?  Certainly, merely choosing to live optimistically, or being hopeful, doesn’t make you immune to disappointment, nor does it mean that everything you hope for will come true.

But for an optimist, that doesn’t matter.  Optimism and disappointment are not antithetical.  They co-exist in perfect harmony.  In truth, the relationship between hope and disappointment is symbiotic, not mutually exclusive.

Often people think that if you have “realistic” expectations, you’ll be better prepared for let downs.  They think that if you are optimistic, and too hopeful, then you’ll have farther to fall.  Because of this, many people don’t dare to hope, there’s too much risk.

So they hedge their dreams based on what they perceive to be the most likely outcome, and as such, they usually get what they aim for (since they don’t aim as high).  The result is that when they do miss, it’s a bigger deal.  They’re not as used to it.

But someone who lives in hope experiences disappointment all the time, for you very seldom get exactly what you hoped for.  So “disappointment” simply becomes part of the process, and you start to view it differently.  Much like a runner becomes accustomed to the pain of running.  To them, running isn’t pain, running is an outlet, it’s freeing, and it’s emotional.  But when you’re not a runner, running is painful.

So when the hopeful don’t realize the full extent of their desire, it’s very seldom disappointing at all.  Instead, they’re usually fueled by their failure.  It spurs them to try again, and again, and again.

You don’t lower your aim just because you missed.  You just shoot again.


P.S.  You may also want to see “Four reasons why hope breeds success“.

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6 replies
  1. Margaret
    Margaret says:

    This makes me think of Thomas Edison. How many times did he attempt a light bulb before he finally got one that worked? He never gave up. Just kept trying.

  2. Rusty Lindquist
    Rusty Lindquist says:

    That is a good example. He tried countless materials for filaments before finding the one that worked. How easy it would have been to simply say “the reality is, one can’t successfully harness electricity within a bulb because there’s no filament durable enough”. When in truth, durability wasn’t even what was needed. His hopeful demeaner allowed him to endure, which lead to his success – which brings me to my next post. How hope increases our ability to succeed.

  3. llpanorama
    llpanorama says:

    Somebody smarter than me said:

    “Optimism isn’t about believing that things will turn out all right. It’s about believing you’re doing the right thing, no matter how it turns out.”

    So optimism is about believing in the direction you are going while knowing you don’t have complete control over the final destination. Kind of what you said.

    From Rusty: I like that. I’ve long been fastinated with hope, what it is, how it relates to faith, and what makes it so easy for some people and so hard for others. Thanks for sharing this!

  4. Tubbo & Dubba Tubba
    Tubbo & Dubba Tubba says:

    This would be a good thing except we never fail. Sometimes, we wish we would fail, just to know how it feels, but we know we never will.

    Please check out our site. It’s amazing, and it never fails.

    See you around (our site),
    -The Tubbo Twins

    From Rusty: Um, Okay ;-)

  5. Margaret
    Margaret says:

    // panorama, your quote says it very well. We can only control our own attitudes and behavior and where others are involved we may have little to do with the outcome. We can only hope, pray and have faith that when all is said and done, the outcome will be good. If it isn’t, we have still done all we could do.


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