Painting titled finally free depicting a woman's feet released from handcuffs still in need of hope.

The Science of Hope

A friend gave me this painting during a season when I was working daily with women who needed much hope. Hope to be free from abusive relationships, from prisons of their mind and heart, and from lies about who they truly were. I keep this painting above my desk. It reminds me what hope and freedom look like to me, as well as the many ways it looks to others because of all our unique experiences. None of us can fully live the lives we desire and were intended when we are shackled, feeling defeated, and hopeless.

I never knew there was a “science of hope” until recently, but research has linked hope to our overall wellbeing – physically, psychologically, and socially. Rick Snyder’s “Hope Theory” is a branch of Positive Psychology that has three main components all of us can relate to, whether personally, professionally, socially, or relationally. Those three components are basically:

  1. Focus your thoughts on a goal/s
  2. Develop strategies or pathways to achieve these goals
  3. Use your free will to choose to act on those strategies

Sounds too simple, right? Too formulaic? We often think of hope as a gift that supernaturally falls into our heart and lifts us up above our problems. But it is truly simple. Maybe not easy, though. Hope is the union of a thought, strategy, and the choice to move forward. The best definition I ever heard of hope is “the confident expectation of good.” To have a thought that is focused on a goal we want to achieve, coupled with an action plan we choose to ignite…that is hope. That is a confident expectation of good.

Where do you need hope? In that very place that just came to mind…

  • Write down your goal
  • Map out a path you can imagine for how to get there
  • Start walking on that path. Just take the first step.

The walk forward is the activation of hope. Each step is worth it. Even the APA says hope is associated with greater happiness, better academic achievement, and lowered risk of death.

How can YOU activate YOUR hope today?

Brenda Harkins is an Author, Speaker, Mediator, and Coach specializing in Personal, Relational and Leadership Transformation. Brenda founded Harkins Leadership Group and developed the Loud Is Not A Language® communication model, helping to build collaborative communities on foundations of trust both professionally and personally. Brenda’s passion for mining gold in people is shared with her love for God, family, good friends, good coffee, and west Texas sunsets. You can reach Brenda through or directly via email at