Choosing Hope: A Stronger Alternative to Chasing Happiness

— Researched and written by Dr. Sandip Roy.

There is an endless pursuit of happiness happening globally.

You see it pop up everywhere—on social media, in coffee shop conversations, even in the ads.

Happiness is just about the most validated end goal. A big, shiny smile is a must-have accessory these days. Our feeds are full of people hitting their ‘peak bliss’.

The International Day of Happiness reminds us that happiness is a fundamental human right.

But let me tell you, there is something quietly more powerful that doesn’t get the spotlight it deserves: hope.

What Hope Means

Experts see hope as a gutsy, gritty process that gets you to roll up your sleeves and say, “I’m going to make things better.”

More than just crossing your fingers and wishing on a shooting star, hope is about figuring out the steps to get to a bright future. And then sticking it out, even when the going gets tough.

Think of happiness as a snapshot of right now, while hope is the long road stretching out ahead, full of twists, turns, and unknowns, and yet we keep moving forward. That’s the beauty of it.

choosing hope over happiness

Why Choose Hope Over Happiness

Happiness isn’t a cure-all; it has its limits.

  • Take work. Extremely happy employees can get too comfortable and stop seeking new challenges, limiting their career growth (Boehm & Lyubomirsky, 2008).
  • Take personal adversities. When things get tough, happiness can quickly fade out, making it less reliable than resilience (Fredrickson, 1998).
  • Moreover, chasing happiness can backfire. People striving hard for constant joy can end up feeling down if they don’t hit that high, leaving them more disappointed than if they hadn’t tried so hard (Moss & Tamir, 2012).
  • Plus, happiness that comes from life’s good circumstances can be pretty short-lived. If the influx of money makes you happy, then it’s going away can make you unhappy.

So, we might be honoring a fake fakir by putting happiness on a pedestal. Actually, hope has been the stronger player.

True Value of Hope

Happiness can be as fleeting as a summer romance, while hope is that loyal friend who’s in it for the long haul.

Resilience? That’s hope’s middle name.

Folks brimming with hope can take life’s punches and roll with them, coming out scarred but stronger. This isn’t just about bouncing back once; it’s about having the grit to keep bouncing back, day after day.

Hope is also the secret code to achieving your dreams.

Higher hope equals higher chances of making your dreams your reality. Because hope is tied to nailing your tasks, aiming higher, and enjoying the ride.

Hope doesn’t ask you to outperform others, but to set your sights on mastering your discipline and craftsmanship.

When you’re hopeful, you’re not just happy at what you do; you are set up to do it better and love it more.

Plus, focusing on hope can light up your mind with optimism and, well, give you more hope. It’s like a feedback loop that keeps on giving.

hope vs optimism
Hope versus Optimism

7 Simple Ways To Cultivate Hope

1. Set realistic goals: It starts with crafting goals that are reachable yet rewarding. These give meaning and value to your dreams, and push you to find ways to achieve them.

2. Find alternative paths: Keep a few alternate routes open. It’s like plotting a map marked out with shortcuts as well as long scenic routes. Those who know there are more ways to get where they are going can keep their hopes alive for longer.

3. Reframe your hurdles: It’s like through a lens that finds the silver linings. It is a therapist-recommended cognitive strategy: Positive reappraisal. Reframe the negative situations so you can see their positive aspects — it can muscle up the hope and dial down the stress.

4. Cherish your community: Surround yourself with people who love and care about you. The social support squad in your life doesn’t just root for you; they’re the bedrock of hope.

5. Embrace the moment: Learn to be mindful of the present moment. With every mindful breath, you turn up the dial on hope.

6. Be your own best friend: Self-compassion is like giving yourself a hope hug. When you’re gentle kind, and understanding with yourself, hope finds room to grow. Especially during tough times.

7. Celebrate the small wins: Every little success is a toast to hope. Teresa Amabile in her book “The Progress Principle” says these mini-milestones aren’t just pats on the back, they are hope boosters that light up your overall well-being.

Final Words

A version of this article was recently featured in the Turkish psychology magazine, Psikohayat, 24th issue, March 2024. Read the published piece here:

I am grateful to Dr. Tayfun Dogan for presenting my work to a Turkish audience, reflecting on the universal value of hope across different cultures. Here’s a screenshot of the article as it appeared in the magazine.


I have been studying happiness and positive psychology for almost a decade. I can tell you that “happiness” deserves all the likes and the hashtags. It’s like that warm, fuzzy blanket we all want to wrap ourselves in.

But I also ask you to pause a bit, and think about the quiet strength that hope carries.

So finally, I’m planting a flag here for hope. Hope has the audacity we all need, especially when the world feels little uncertain.

√ Also Read: Hope: 7 Questions You Wanted To Ask, And Their Surprising Answers

√ Please spread the word if you found this helpful.

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When it comes to mental well-being, you don't have to do it alone. Therapists can help you work through your trauma triggers and emotional patterns. Reaching out to a professional to feel better is a positive choice.