How Hope Affects Brains

Every day you encounter people saying I hope to own that house, vehicle or have a holiday overseas. What do you deduce from such utterances? Do you believe they achieved what they had wished? Have you ever followed a person who had hoped for something? What happened? Did they achieve it or did it remain that: a hope?

Well, whether they met their goals or not isn’t our concern here. Our interest is in the change on how they acted during this period of hope. A keen interest on how they performed in their everyday activities would reveal a pattern designed to achieve their hope.

It is important to note that the part of the brain responsible for hope is the amygdala and the hippocampus. The amygdala, a small almond-shaped structure located in the prefrontal area of the thalamus is responsible for identification of danger and self-preservation antics. The hippocampus is responsible for retaining long term memory.

Let’s equate danger with the desired achievement. The amygdala identifies the threat, in this case, an African holiday or a vehicle. This risk or desire propels the individual to toil for its attainment. The hippocampus retains this hope within the brains and shapes the activities that will lead to its realization. How is hope initiated, propagated and achieved?

•    Launching the goal
You walk down the street and see a beautiful and comfortable car. It interests you, and you start thinking about a possible and similar comfort. No matter how you try to push the thought away; it remains there. Now it becomes a part of you. Your brains condition themselves to own the car and enjoy the comfort.

What happens next is setting a goal on how to acquire the vehicle. You find yourself avoiding expensive and luxurious goods. Your friends with whom you hang around with taking a scotch are temporarily forgotten. The exciting thing is that everyone tends to keep the hope to themselves. This group is more likely to achieve the goal than those people who freely talk about their expectations. Exposing your goals to people may interfere with its speedy realization. Most individuals will discourage you or talk of past similar goals which they didn’t achieve. Setting a goal will require stealth planning for quick achievement.

•    Sustaining the goal
After setting a goal, the power to maintain the hope comes in handy. Many distractions happen on the way. By now your brains have set the goal, and you will find yourself naturally avoiding these distractions. This memory stuck in the minds will dictate the time you wake up, how hard you will work, how you can make more dollars and what to eat. Virtually all your energy will work in harmony with the set goals.

•    Achieving the goal
After successfully sustaining the goals, it’s time to acquire the desired item: vehicle. In this stage, you have saved enough for the car. Now you can involve a friend or loved one. All the pressures of saving can now come out as you celebrate the realized goal.Let’s evaluate on how hope conditions our brains in various conditions.

•    Hope and exercise
You may watch a particular game on the field and decide to join in the play. The only drawback is that it seems impossible for you to acquire the skills to play. But since you are determined, you train your brains to accept the challenge. Move on to the field, train with the experts and finally achieve your goal. Looking back at your fallacy that you couldn’t be the best player gives you more hope in sailing to higher heights in the game.

•    Hope and treatment
Most mental treatments require the physician, in addition to drugs, to cultivate a sense of hope in the patient. The amygdala part of the brain will be activated to preserve the proper functioning of the body and good personality.

•    Hope and environment
Suppose your country gets into a conflict or you visit such a country. From the land of abundance, you suddenly find yourself in dire need of things that you took for granted. This new environment calls for adaptation mechanisms that will retain you during this period. Hoping for the best will be the only driving power for your existence. Your brains will become accustomed to this new hope.

•    Hope and life
All our lives depend on hope. We hope to achieve a good life, a beautiful family, and a welcoming home. Since birth, hope shapes how we will end up in life. Parents and teachers nourish the child’s brains to hope for the best with the intentions of making their life brighter.