Just how powerful is hope?
That’s one question psychologist Chan Hellman, professor in the Anne and Henry Zarrow School of Social Work and director of the Hope Research Center at the University of Oklahoma — Tulsa, seeks to answer.
Nearly 2,000 published studies about hope, including the research of Hellman and Casey Gwinn, president of the Alliance for HOPE International and founder of Camp Hope America, form the basis of their new book, "Hope Rising: How the Science of Hope Can Change Your Life."
Hellman’s work at the HRC — and with local nonprofits such as the Parent Child Center of Tulsa — is guided by more quandaries about hope: Does hope buffer adversity and stress? Do hopeful children and adults have better psychological, social and behavioral outcomes? Can hope be increased and sustained by targeted interventions?
Research aside, Hellman says he personally experienced the power of hope during his own traumatic childhood. For him it was a coach’s hand on his shoulder and the simple phrase, "You’re going to be OK." In the book, Hellman details this life-changing experience, as well as strategies to increase hope for yourself and potentially for others.
"Hope is the belief that tomorrow will be better than today, and that you have the power to make it so," he explains. "It is a fundamental element of our capacity to live life well."
"Hope Rising" releases Nov. 27 at retailers including Amazon and Barnes and Noble. It is $17.95.