I’m Not An Optimist. But I’m Always Hopeful

Hope Vs Optimism

Mo Issa
3 min readJan 16, 2024
Photo by Mahdi Dastmard on Unsplash

Hope is … not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out. — Vaclav Havel

The start of a new year always fills me with excitement. There is freshness in the air. No matter how bad the previous year was and it was, I feel a sense of renewal within me, as if a new life is bursting through my veins.

I’ve gone through my annual goal-setting process and am enthusiastic about what lies ahead. I’m ready to change and move towards new possibilities.

I’m full of hope.

I’ve always been hopeful, but I’ve never been an optimist. I’m too much of a realist, or so I tell myself. But, unfortunately, I see holes in any ‘optimistic ’ argument and end up analysing it to death.

So how can I be hopeful but also not an optimist?

Hope Vs Optimism

Hope is a state of mind, an emotion we feel, involving a personal agency. Optimism is more a trait brought about by genes and a good upbringing.

Optimism is more focused on general future outcomes, while hope is more specific to the personal attainment of goals.

Optimists often drive me crazy as they genuinely believe everything will turn out alright, even though the evidence is contrary. However, being hopeful and perceptive, I’m more inclined to see that things are not that great but that I can make things better.

Because of my self-reliance viewpoint, I see a hopeful mindset as superior to an optimistic one. Because it’s related to motivation and having faith in yourself to reach your goals.

“Hope” is the thing with feathers -

That perches in the soul -

And sings the tune without the words -

And never stops — at all -

Emily Dickinson (1891)

For the past six months, I have gotten up early and written an hour towards a memoir I’m hoping to finish in April. Of course, I dream it would become a bestseller, but my realistic (non-optimistic) mind tells me otherwise. Who would want to read my book?

The truth is that hope wakes me daily to write for an hour. It’s hope that is driving me to understand how to market a book before publication. It’s hope that is pushing me to finish the book and to put myself out there.

It’s that thread of hope that I cling to that gives me the faith that I’m doing the right things so that my book can be read widely.

So many times in my life, when everything seemed so dark, only one thing got me out of bed. It was hope — the feeling that I could get out of the dire straits I was in.

Hope invokes an extraordinary belief in me that things will work to my benefit. I trust myself and the universe to direct me toward my goal.

That’s what hopes gives me.



Mo Issa

I rise daily at 5 am, meditate, read and journal on my Self-awareness journey. Some of my reflections make it to my blog; others don’t. (http://mo-issa.com)