I recently read an article that stated, according to research, despite unemployment and any number of economic and social indicators to the contrary, 80% of the population holds “unrealistic, optimistic beliefs” about their own future.

It really got me to thinking about the two sides of hope.

On the one hand, there is great power in hope because it brings light into dark, sad places, gives us something to hang on to, and the strength to press on for a better future.

On the other hand, it can also lead to a really painful wake-up call, when we hope for things that cannot possibly happen. And yet, what do we do even when this happens? According to research, we dust ourselves off, and go right back to hoping against hope things will be better the next time.

Despite all of the potential pitfalls, the research on optimism clearly suggests that, on balance, hope is a good thing.

Believing that a goal is within reach actually motivates us to act in a way that will help us attain it. And research has proven that underestimating the pain and difficulties the future may well hold, lowers stress and anxiety, consequently enhancing physical and mental health.

It may sound a bit cliché, but to me hope is like a beautiful wild flower. It appears fragile, but has a way of surviving, despite sometimes amazing odds, and on occasion miraculously pops up when and where we least expect it.

To inspire you to treasure all of your beautiful hopes about life, I’d like to share a few of my favorite quotes on the power of hope:

* Hope begins in the dark; the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don't give up. ~Anne Lamott

* Hope has two beautiful daughters. Their names are anger and courage; anger at the way things are, and courage to see that they do not remain the way they are. ~Augustine of Hippo

* Hope is always available to us. When we feel defeated, we need only take a deep breath and say, "Yes," and hope will reappear. ~Monroe Forester

* Hope is like a road in the country; there was never a road, but when many people walk on it, the road comes into existence. ~Lin Yutang

* If you lose hope, somehow you lose the vitality that keeps life moving, you lose that courage to be, that quality that helps you go on in spite of it all. And so today I still have a dream. ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

* May you have enough happiness to make you sweet, enough trials to make you strong, enough sorrow to keep you human, and enough hope to make you happy. ~Author Unknown

* Hope is not a dream but a way of making dreams become reality. ~Author Unknown

* Never let go of hope. One day you will see that it all has finally come together. What you have always wished for has finally come to be. You will look back and laugh at what has passed and you will ask yourself... "How did I get through all of that?" ~Author Unknown

* Practice hope. As hopefulness becomes a habit, you can achieve a permanently happy spirit. ~Norman Vincent Peale

* Of all the forces that make for a better world, none is so indispensable, none so powerful, as hope. Without hope people are only half alive. With hope they dream and think and work. ~Author Unknown

* Once you choose hope, anything's possible. ~Christopher Reeve

* When the world says, "Give up," hope whispers, "Try it one more time." ~Author Unknown

* Some see a hopeless end, while others see an endless hope. ~Author Unknown

* There is no medicine like hope, no incentive so great, and no tonic so powerful as expectation of something better tomorrow. ~Orison Swett Marden

As beautiful and uplifting as it can be, we also need to recognize that at times giving up hope can also be very constructive and positive. Continuing to pursue a particular direction, when you’ve encountered roadblock after roadblock, can blind you to other avenues that may lead to achieving a far better outcome.

Having the strength and courage to accept when it’s time to change your plan of action, or maybe the direction of your path all together, can point you in an unsullied direction that is accompanied by new hope.

Author's Bio: 

Marquita Herald is a transformation guide, the creator of the life by design blog IGG Tips, Tools & Tantalizing Ideas, and the author of three books, Stepping Stones to Greater Resilience, Inspirational Words of Wisdom for Challenging Times, and It's Your Time Now - A Guide to Living Your Life by Design.

She writes to inspire readers to reach a little beyond what's comfortable to achieve goals that matter ... refuse to accept simply "getting along" in life out of fear or limiting beliefs ... cultivate the skills to become stronger and more resilient ... learn to master the self-motivation skills that will keep you energized and moving forward ... make the choices each day that will over time create the fulfilling life you really want for yourself ... and to choose happiness, each and every day.

Marquita's professional background includes a successful 20 year career in hotel sales and marketing followed by a decade as a life and small business coach.

To learn more about Living Your Life by Design, please visit Marquita at http://www.inspiredgiftgiving.com