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What are Hope and Optimism?

We've established that hope and optimism are different things – but where do their differences lie? Hope is the process of setting goals and following through on them, while optimism is a positive thought pattern. Read below for some more information on how they differ.


Hope helps people better cope with difficult or stressful times and adapt better to serious illness. People with hope don't just wish for something good to happen – they have a concrete plan to make it happen. Hope has three components:

  • Willpower – The ability to set goals
  • Waypower – Finding ways to meet those goals
  • Follow-through – The flexibility and know-how to see the goals through


Having optimism is often thought to mean being naive about life, expecting a perfect outcome in every situation. Actually, optimism is simply a way of thinking about life, which includes the following beliefs:

  • Things will work out reasonably well
  • Even during troubles, life is still good
  • There is almost always a way to get the job done
  • Life can be improved through effort

Although hope and optimism are two completely separate things, one isn't nearly as beneficial without the other. Someone who is optimistic but without hope could think everything is going to turn out great but have no plans to make it happen, or a pessimist could have a plan but no belief in their ability to see it through. Make sure to maintain a combination of hope and optimism to support a healthy mind and body.

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