Hope Is Not Always A Good Thing

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Most Western psychologists will tell you that hope is an essential element for mental health but their emphasis on the importance of hope stems from their failure to recognize an underlying cognitive bias common to Western culture, to psychologists and laypeople alike, which is that we tend to elevate the future to a higher level of worth than the present or the past.

We’re taught to focus on and work towards our goals. Each stage of life is looked upon as a stepping stone to get to somewhere better. We sacrifice right now in order to get the payoff down the line. We invest, not just in financial commodities but in other people and in ourselves.

It’s not like there’s anything inherently wrong with worrying about or planning for the future but it becomes a big problem when this future focus comes at the expense of the present, when we fail to recognize that the necessary elements for happiness and fulfillment are available to us right now if we just decide to embrace the here and now as it is instead of discounting it, deciding it’s not yet good enough and can therefore be ignored.

Hope as a mentality is nefarious precisely because it looks towards the future at the expense of the present, it banks on things changing for the better down the line, and for a lot of people things never change. Life passes them by in the process, a life that could have been lived fully for what it was instead of discounted and ignored because it wasn’t what they thought it should be.