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Making Hope Happen (Book Review)

written by Doug Turner 17 May 2013

Douglas B. Turner, MAPP '06, is Corporate Vice President, Talent Management, for Balfour Beatty Construction,overseeing human resources, including leadership, management, employee training and development, team development, employee recruitment and retention, employee relations, and compliance. Full bio.

Doug's articles are here.

Shane Lopez dedicates his most recent book, Making Hope Happen, to Dr. Rick Snyder his friend and mentor by saying, “In memory of Rick. I interpreted your promise of a lifetime of mentoring to mean my lifetime.”

As I pursued my Masters in Applied Positive Psychology, my attention was immediately drawn to the study of the concept of hope. I read all I could find on the subject and quickly learned that Rick Snyder was the leader in this field of inquiry. Sadly Rick passed away shortly before I finished my degree. Happily, Shane Lopez has picked up the Hope Torch from his friend and mentor. In his most recent book, Making Hope Happen, Lopez takes the theories and models of hope and makes them accessible to all of us with practical exercises and applications.

Lopez helps us understand that there is a difference between optimism and hope. Optimism is thinking “that the future will be better than the present,” while hope is thinking “that the future will be better and that you have a role in making it so.” (italics added) He outlines The Hope Cycle, which includes goals, agency, and pathways. In this cycle, a goal is the desired future self, agency is our perceived ability to achieve the goal, and pathways are the routes we take to our meet our goals. It occurred to me that Lopez uses these concepts as the overall outline for the main sections of his book.

In the first section, Thinking About the Future, Lopez both provides a primer of the hope theory and research and makes a case for the importance and value of cultivating hope in our lives. These hope-fueled values include an increase in health, accomplishment, performance, and ultimately, happiness. After reading these chapters I felt compelled to make hope happen more in my own life and in the lives of those around me.

The next section, Choosing a Better Tomorrow, addresses the agency part of The Hope Cycle. Here Lopez outlines how and why we have the power or ability to choose the future we want to pursue. He demonstrates that we make these future choices every day. Lopez also exposes the limiting myths we harbor that can smother our agency and hope. These myths are described in chapters called The Present Is Not What Limits Us and The Past is Not a Preview.

The last section, Practicing the Three Hope Strategies, is a practical handbook for using the following three pathways to achieve our goals and to make The Hope Cycle work for us:

  • Futurecasting
  • Triggering Action
  • Planning for Ifs

Making Hope Happen is fun to read and full of both science and stories. The science includes the foundation studies and the latest research on the influence and impact of hope on the well-being that people experience in their lives. The many stories are inspiring and exciting and tell of real people struggling with real life and the difference hope has made, in some cases the lifesaving difference hope has made.

You will not regret the time you spend reading Making Hope Happen. You’ll come away, well, more hopeful and eager to create the future you want.


Lopez, S. J. (2013). Making Hope Happen: Create the Future You Want for Yourself and Others. Atria Books.

Snyder, C. R. (2000). Handbook of Hope : Theory, Measures, and Applications. San Diego, CA: Academic Press.

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Tim Newton 18 May 2013 - 8:35 am

Good article. And a reminder that the concept and languge of Positive Psychology may have cuturaly specific meanings and connotations, as in the article’s distinction between optimism and hope. In England (or to be more specific, my exerience in England) hope is the more passive concept of the two, for example we might say with resignation ‘we can only hope for the best’ indicating our lack percieved agency. Optimism, in my experience, has the greater connotation of personal agency; a favourite quote in this respect is from polar Explorer Ernest Shackleton who said that ‘optimism is true moral courage,’ and he demonstrated this principle by leading a marooned party of Antartic explorers to safety in 1914-1915.

Margaret Greenberg 24 May 2013 - 1:42 pm

Doug – thank you for a nice recap of Making Hope Happen that I can share with others. I must admit, I typically read historical fiction when I go vacation, but the promise of “stories” prompted me to bring it along. I wasn’t disappointed. And, Tim, I really appreciate the distinction between hope and optimism in your culture.

Judy Krings 28 May 2015 - 5:31 am

Thanks ever so much, Doug and well done.

I am giving Lopez’s book a re-look, as my adopted family in Nepal have asked if I would write a blog to help Nepal deal with their loss of hope and depression after two recent devastating earthquakes. They are still reeling. I know they are all in a state of shock having lost everything again two times in the last few year. Many were still rebuilding from the previous India/Nepal earthquake several years ago.

Culture is so very important here, too. Far easier for us in the West who have so very much materially to come back from disaster, at least in my book. The Nepali folks have so very little to sustain them to begin with, to lose their meager homes and food and water supply for months, and now have no jobs, well, my family and so many others there are trying to hold their heads up high. Spiritually, they do, but their realites are so very different than ours. I bless them for teaching me so much aobut LOVE and values and authenticity.

Margaret, I am with you, remembering the stories is very powerful. Thanks for your reminder. Loved your comment and quote, too, Tim.

Optimistically yours…Judy


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