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Hope Is More Powerful Than You Think

5 ways to build your hope skills and cultivate greater resilience.

Key points

  • Hope encompasses a set of skills that can help people perform well and build well-being and resilience.
  • Research links hope with positive relationships, productivity, and achievement.
  • Evidence suggests that hope is teachable and learnable.
Source: shameersk/pixabay

Hope is much more than wishful thinking. A powerful tool in the life toolbox, hope is built on strategies for strengthening well-being, resilience, and accomplishment (Eaves et al., 2016; Berns-Zare, 2021).

Hope can empower you to create and sustain a more positive future in many areas of your life—at work, at school, and at home. It can strengthen your emotional health and happiness, augment your stress reduction skills, and amplify your ability to achieve goals.

Research indicates that hope can promote confidence, empowerment, and resilience. When we believe that our personal actions and abilities can expand and are not fixed, our performance and ability to respond to life’s challenges can improve (Yeager & Dweck, 2014; Snyder, 2000). Hope is also linked to greater emotional and physical well-being, positive relationships, productivity, goal setting, achievement, and performance in academics and athletics (Rand & Cheavens, 2009; Snyder, 2002).

Evidence suggests that hope is readily learnable and teachable (Rand & Cheavens, 2009). An organization called Hopeful Minds is bringing hope skills to the larger community to help people build their resilience during these challenging times. Kathryn Goetzke, the founder of the nonprofit International Foundation for Research and Education, iFred, and creator of Hopeful Minds, has been working with a panel of experts and examining research in the field. They have developed a user-friendly mnemonic called SHINE to help us engage the power of hope. These five steps for hope are part of an overall approach that Goetzke’s team outlines on their website.

These steps can help children and adults propel themselves toward resilience, handle day-to-day adversities, and develop skills for life. Using the acronym SHINE, here are the five keys to hope.

S:Stress Skills

You can strengthen your resilience by learning and practicing stress skills. Some of these skills include pausing and employing breathing techniques like lengthening the exhale or slow, focused breathing, listening to soothing music, laughing, exercising, or going outdoors and noticing the beauty of nature.

H: Happiness Habits

To bring greater hope into your life, you can cultivate habits that nourish positive emotions. A few practices that can promote happiness and well-being include: pausing to notice and savor good moments, practicing gratitude and thankfulness, being kind to yourself and others, engaging in activities you find meaningful, and discovering and using your strengths.

I: Inspired Actions

You can inspire your hope by setting meaningful goals that offer you encouragement and motivation for your life and your future. Experts recommend developing SMART goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-framed. It’s helpful to break larger goals into smaller, step-by-step actions. Also, consider possible stumbling blocks and brainstorm ways to overcome them if they get in the way.

N: Nourishing Network

Having a support network of family, friends, coworkers, and support professionals can go a long way toward helping to bolster your hope and happiness. Knowing who you can turn to in good times and bad can contribute to a hopeful mindset. These connections may also include people beyond your personal network, where you can go during times of crisis. Your hope network should include people who value you and your strengths, see the positives in you, and want you to be successful.

E: Eliminate Challenges

When you feel challenged, or there’s an obstacle in the way, first identify it. Then, you can use your SHINE skills to help yourself overcome it.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. No content is a substitute for consulting with a qualified mental health or health care professional.

©2022 Ilene Berns-Zare, LLC, All Rights Reserved


Alsop, R., Bertelsen, M. F., & Holland, J. (2006). Empowerment in practice: From analysis to implementation. Washington, DC: World Bank Publications.

Berns-Zare, I. (2021) What do you hope for? Research shows hope is a skill we can learn and get better at.

Eaves, E.R., Nichter, M., & Ritenbaugh, C. (2016). Ways of hoping: navigating the paradox of hope and despair in chronic pain. Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry, 40(1), 35-58.

Hopeful Cities: An Project (2022). Five keys to hope.

Hopeful Minds (2022).

Rand, K.L. & J.S. Cheavens. (2009). Hope theory. In S.J. Lopez & C.R. Snyder (Eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Positive Psychology, 2, (323-333). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Snyder, C.R. (Ed.). (2000). Handbook of hope: Theory measures, and applications. San Diego, CA: Academic Press.

Snyder, C. R. (2002). Hope theory: Rainbows in the mind. Psychological Inquiry, 13, 249-275.

Yeager, D. S., Johnson, R., Spitzer, B. J., Trzesniewski, K. H., Powers, J., & Dweck, C. S. (2014). The far-reaching effects of believing people can change: Implicit theories of personality shape stress, health, and achievement during adolescence. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 106(6), 867–884.

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