How, exactly, does hope help patients heal?
[Excerpt from Healing Hope] Hope can motivate patients to action. With hope, they take steps that increase the chance of the desired outcome. Hope also helps patients wait when the outcome is totally beyond their control. Hope calms anxiety and reins in the desire to do something when the doctor's prescription is tincture of time.
Since hope only arises in settings of uncertainty, it's logical to [ask]: "Is what I'm hoping for helping me through the uncertainty by helping me act and/or wait?"
My life changed for the better once I began assessing my hopes, investing only in healing hopes, and letting realistic hopes drift into the background if they weren't helping.
Over the years, I've developed a repertoire of hopes tailored for specific circumstances. Most of my healing hopes narrow the time frame of uncertainty. This increases the frequency of realized hopes, which generates an uplifting feeling that nurtures hopefulness. And all other things being equal, the disappointment of a dashed short-term hope is less than if I'd been hoping for a long time.
In addition, most of my healing hopes offer me a role in bringing them to fruition. This focuses my attention on changing the things I can change. Serenity replaces anxiety as each action I take to increase the chance of the desired outcome gives me another reason to hope for the best.