#1593 Areté +1° #35: Hope

Goals + Agency + Pathways

Hi, this is Brian.

Welcome back to another Areté +1°, one of my all-time favorite ideas that is featured in my new book, Areté: Activate Your Heroic Potential, which has 451 of my all-time favorite ideas.

I hope you'll love the book if you decide to get it.

For now, this is truly one of my all-time favorite ideas that I come back to more than any other idea, tied for first perhaps.

But with the Heroic app, with the coaching certification program we have, we come back to the science of Hope over and over again.

So here's the micro-chapter…


Now that we’ve explored some ideas on gratitude, it’s time to talk about HOPE! This is one of my favorite virtues. And not just because it’s in my own Top Five.

First, let’s pause and think about the opposite of hope.

What is it?


Of course, it’s REALLY hard to live with eudaimonic, Heroic joy if we feel hopeless—which is why understanding and mastering the SCIENCE of how to cultivate a grounded, resilient sort of hope is so important.

We have Rick Snyder to thank for pioneering the scientific exploration of hope.

In his great book The Psychology of Hope, Professor Snyder walks us through the THREE key aspects of cultivating a grounded, resilient kind of hope.

First, we need a Goal. Second, we need a sense of Agency. Third, we need Pathways.

It all (always!) starts with a clear goal. We need a vision of a better future.

Aristotle tells us that we are teleological beings. Telos means “target.” He tells us that we need to have goals or targets at which we’re directing our life force.

Modern positive psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky echoes that ancient wisdom.

In her great book The How of Happiness, she tells us that happy people have projects—whether that’s cultivating a garden or raising your children or launching a rocket to Mars.

So… How about YOU?

What’s YOUR #1 most inspiring Target Goal right now?

(Seriously. What goal makes you want to get out of bed and have an awesome day?)

Again: It all starts with seeing a better future and having a specific goal that fires you up.


Having a Goal isn’t enough. We need to believe we can actually turn that dreamt-for vision into reality.

That requires what scientists call “Agency.”

Agency is, essentially, a belief in our ability to make things happen. A sense of self-efficacy or self-confidence. We’re going to talk about THIS a lot as well.

Then we need to create a “Pathway” (or a plan!) to achieve that Goal. And, very importantly, we need to know that, as they say in the military, no plan survives first contact with the enemy.

In other words, we need to EXPECT to hit obstacles and be willing to explore MULTIPLE PATHWAYS.

Plan A doesn’t work? Perfect. Alchemize the lessons into Plan B. That doesn’t work? Perfect. Repeat.

That’s “Pathways” thinking and THAT’s a quick look at the three key aspects of grounded, resilient hope.

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