The Hopeful tend to be More Optimistic: The Optimistic Tend to be More Hopeful

My friend George referred me to a LinkedIn Post by Frank Wyatt titled "POSITIVISM vs HOPEFULNESS." In this post, Wyatt presents a critical view of 'positivism,' contrasting it sharply with 'hopefulness.' He states, "I struggle with the present enthusiasm for 'positivism' as though it's something to celebrate, yet by its nature it is inert and passive. Whereas 'hopefulness' intrigues me being based on aspirationalism, inclusiveness and community, and inspires me to greater innovativeness driving us to richer deeper collaborations for entrepreneurship. Hope is a sense that things can be made better through action, while optimism is a more ephemeral belief that everything will be OK. One requires ACTION the other PASSIVITY. HOPE is a more potent force in our lives, it requires us to ACT. It is based on the presumptive question: "so what are you going to do about it?", thereby assuming responsibility for what will happen."


Frank concludes, "I'd be happy to hear differently."

I respectfully disagree with Wyatt's perspective.

I believe Frank meant "positivity" rather than "positivism," as he later contrasts optimism with hope.

This debate and conversation likely dates back to the earliest formations of language and is still prevalent today, especially in religious circles, Catholic and Jewish..

Read More on Christian Optimism.

Read More on Jewish Optimism

Like Frank, this school of thought often dismisses optimism, holding faith and hope as more crucial. Some even reject optimism entirely in favour of hope. However, I don't believe one has to choose between the two.

The spiritual life and faith can enhance optimism.

For many, optimism is underpinned by hope, and vice versa.

Hope is often strengthened through optimism, and hope and optimism reinforce positive thinking.

This interplay is a complex yet harmonious blend that enriches our perspectives.

I recall meeting Martin Seligman shortly after he published his book "Hope." He liked my research question, "What makes you Optimistic?" It's not just a question for academic curiosity; asking it sets people off on a profound journey through their beliefs and their impacts on society and family.


As the author of Hope, Martin helpfully suggested I modify my question to include "and hope," making it "What makes you Optimistic? What makes you Hopeful?" 

Hope in Answers to My Survey Question "What makes you Optimistic?"

In my survey for The Centre for Optimism asking "What makes you Optimistic?" the word hope is mentioned 8th most as a source of optimism.

A sample of the answers to the question "What makes you Optimistic?" indicate a dynamic interplay between hope and optimism:

  • Rajiv sees hope as the driver of optimism, suggesting an active force rather than a passive feeling.
  • Helen finds hope in the potential of younger generations, highlighting optimism fueled by the promise of change.
  • Gary links hope with personal growth, viewing it as a journey towards self-improvement.
  • Phaedra connects hope to the realisation of change, emphasising belief in the potential for positive transformation.
  • John's experience of hope turning despair into joy underscores its transformational power.

Frank Wyatt kindly contributed, "What makes me optimistic? I have always seen the good in humans despite how frequently we fail." These responses highlight the multifaceted nature of hope as a key component of optimism, whether through belief in the potential of others, personal growth, the promise of change, or the contrast with challenging experiences.

Worth Doing: Our 5-Minute Survey on "What makes you Optimistic?"

Thought Leaders on Optimism and Hope:

  • Bojosi Gamontle describes optimism as "hope made alive."
  • Dr. Adam Kassam sees optimism as the "positive distillation of hope."
  • Daniel Truran believes optimism creates hope, sparking energy for meaningful purposes.
  • Colonel Matthew T. Fritz views optimism as born of hope, essential for inspiring teams.
  • Attila Burjan and Victoria Cope see optimism as a choice of will and hope.
  • Deepak Chopra emphasises the strength, resilience, and optimism inherent in hope.
  • Janine Kirk and Alice Sidhu link optimism with faith, hope, and love.
  • Warren Davies, Eangano Singehebhuye, and Helen Szoke recognise optimism as key to success and motivation.
  • Billy Graham attributes his optimism to faith in God.
  • Dr. Margit Henderson discusses how personal optimism empowers action and impacts the world.

Read More on Hope and Optimism

Thought Leaders on Optimism and Action:

  • Dr. Cherie Hugo asserts, "Nothing gets done without underlying optimism."
  • Sassoon Grigorian from Salesforce believes, "Optimism makes things happen; it's as simple as that."
  • Robert Cox says, "Being optimistic energises me to Act, which often gets me involved in new and diverse Activities."
  • The late Gary W. Moore advised, "Remain hopeful. Be optimistic. Believe in your dreams and act, not stopping until victory is at hand."
  • Tim Diamond views optimism as a way of life that demands action and drives an ever-better mentality.
  • Professor Maggie Cusack succinctly states, "Optimism mobilises!"
  • Rosanna Iacono emphasises that optimism and collective activism achieve great things.
  • The Honourable Jonathan O'Dea underscores that optimism should prompt positive action and confront challenges.
  • Kieran Flanagan highlights, "What makes us optimistic is action."

Read More on Action and Optimism

Optimism, hope, and positivity drive us to action, while pessimism paralyses

I suspect most people use words like positivity, optimism, and hope interchangeably. I don't believe you have to choose.

I live with optimism, positivity, hope, faith, and belief, and it feels pretty good. I lift people in conversation, embodying the very essence of these interlinked concepts.

Optimism, hope, and positivity drive us to action, while pessimism paralyses.

The relationship between optimism, hope, and action is one of mutual reinforcement. Optimism, hope, and positivity drive us to action, while pessimism paralyses. Together, they form a powerful synergy that can lead to significant personal and societal transformations. The survey results and insights from various leaders illustrate the complexity of human emotions and perspectives, where feelings and beliefs coexist and influence each other in profound and empowering ways.

Far from being a passive state, optimism is often a catalyst for action, intertwined with hope to create a dynamic force for positive change.

The Real Battle?

The debate between the hopeful, the optimistic, and the positive while fun neglects the real problem, the Western world's fog of pessimism.

Michael Franti, musician: "I believe the great battle that's taking place in the world isn't between left and right. It's between cynicism and optimism. There are people who believe it's possible to create a better life and a better world. When we lose that sense of optimism is when we quit, when we give up."

Penny Mordaunt MP, UK’s Leader of the House of Commons and Lord President of the Council:  “The faultline in politics at the moment is not between left and right but between optimists and pessimists. We need optimists for the next tough shift.”

Tharman Shanmugaratnam, President of Singapore: "Creating bases for optimism has to be our central task everywhere in the world and through global collaboration. We must create bases for optimism to see ourselves through this long storm and to emerge intact; emerge a better place, and it can be done."

Sam Altman, ChatGPT: “We have lost our collective sense of optimism about the future. We should all act as if regaining it is a duty. The only way I know of to return to that optimism is to use technology to create abundance."


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