Photo by Tijs van Leur on Unsplash

The uncomfortable truth about hope

In dictionaries, hoping is defined as to desire with expectation of obtainment. We hope to always be happy, healthy or successful. These are the desires with the possibility of becoming true. We also hope to avoid some disasters or difficulties of everyday life, namely we fear. So, we can take hoping and fearing as siblings faced with two opposite fates.

Humans hope a lot and actually most of those hopes are ending with a disappointment, if not a disaster. Main reason for this disappointment is that we are trying to create an expectation about an uncertain future that is in no means under our control, and we do it without thinking of other scenarios that potentially could happen (and eventually does happen). The not happening of what we hoped for is just one source of the distress. There is also a very likely scenario that once we achieve the target, it won’t meet our expectations. It’s very unnecessary to hope for things, as it is not a value adding exercise. Hope and fear is just a product of our mind. They cannot change anything neither impact the probability of the outcome. It just creates stress, anxiety, depression and disenchantment.

Cease to hope and you will cease to fear.

Seneca

Mark Manson, in his book “Everything is fucked” says that “We are inconsequential cosmic dust, bumping and milling about on a tiny blue speck. We imagine our own importance. We invent our purpose – we are nothing. Enjoy your fucking coffee.” Mark did not invent this concept. Meaninglessness (vs. meaning) of life is a topic that has kept philosophy busy for centuries. Zen suggests that the mind and the thing, the knower and the known, the explorer and the explored are the same things. The duality, “the wheel of birth-and-death”, the karma can be overcome only by letting it flow. We should not intend to look for the meaning, since it does not make any sense as we won’t see the reality, but only the reflection of it in our perception. The Way of reaching “Nirvana” is a no way. Understanding the truth is not looking for it.

I want to say that to find the peace, cease hoping. However, knowing that humans have to have a bigger purpose to strive for in order to establish a meaning for their life, it would make more sense to direct the psychological power of hope towards the objectives whose outcome has a big portion under our control. As the outcome of hope is a better situation that the current one, we can practice gaining practical habits that supports the journey towards the hoped destination. There should be a strong desire on mastering the system, rather than the destination itself, because the realisation of the outcome is bound to a probability. Unless you love the process itself, just hoping for the outcome is simply getting closer to disillusionment.

Mark Manson’s “Everything is fucked” talks a lot on hope in a very unorthodox way. If these ideas seem intriguing but interesting, I can highly recommend to read the book.


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