For scholars on hope (yes, there are actually scholars who study wonderful topics like this), they sometimes make a distinction between hope and optimism. Optimism is a more general sense that everything will work out, where scholars sometimes describe hope as a more goal-oriented optimism. I love how this article describes hope as necessary to stretch yourself and grow.
According to researchers, if you don’t have hope, you are more likely to employ “mastery goals,” i.e. choosing simple, attainable tasks that aren’t challenging and don’t help you grow.
When I was a classroom teacher for the first decade of my career, it was easy to recognize the presence and absence of hope in a student. I could not always tell why it was present, but when it was there, students persisted through challenges. Their effort was fueled by their hope, allowing them to keep working through the messy and challenging parts of the learning experience.
How do we create the conditions where people are more likely to develop hope? One thing is certain. It isn’t enough for people to want to achieve something. Hope grows when a learner wants to accomplish something, establishes a goal, and sees that she is making progress toward achieving the goal. The more this happens, the more a person’s sense of agency and hopefulness begins to grow.