The Metaphysical Emotions: Part 3, Hope

Like gratitude, hope is a vital aspect of human flourishing.

There is no better witness to the role hope plays in mental health than Viktor Fankl's observations in Man's Search for Meaning, his psychological study of life among his fellow prisoners in the German concentration camps in WW2. Frankl writes,
The prisoner who had lost his faith in the future — his future — was doomed. With his loss of belief in the future, he also lost his spiritual hold; he let himself decline and became subject to mental and physical decay. Usually this happened quite suddenly, in the form of a crisis, the symptoms of which were familiar to the experienced camp inmate. . .Usually it began with the prisoner refusing one morning to get dressed and wash or to go out on the parade grounds. No entreaties, no blows, no threats had any effect. He just lay there, hardly moving. If this crisis was brought about by an illness, he refused to be taken to the sick-bay or to do anything to help himself. He simply gave up.
Hope, having faith in the future, is foundational for well-being. And yet, once again, we're confronted with the metaphysical structure of his emotion. 

Hope is a religious emotion because hope is what happens when all reason, logic, and evidence has exhausted itself. Hope isn't rational, scientific, or empirical. Hope shows up when reason, science, and facts have reached their limit. Hope only shows up with all available options have been explored, tried, or failed. When you reach that point, when all the facts say you are doomed, that's the moment when hope either shows up or not. Hope is the crossroads you reach when reason comes to the end of the line.

Hope, then, is the ability or the will to see beyond. Hope, by definition, sees or posits something outside of the system we're currently in. Because of this, hope is very much like faith, a conviction about something unseen and not rooted in evidence or facts.

Once again, as with gratitude, we see how mental health flows out of a metaphysical, religious orientation to the world.

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