Monday, September 06, 2010


A single story can be hopeful or not-so-hopeful. It all depends on where you put the emphasis.

Part 1
Create hope in a story you tell by making sure you know in your heart where the hope is. Feel it first.

Part 2
Create hope by playing with time. Make the time span as long as it needs to be.

Part 3
Create hope in one context by telling a hopeful story about another.

Part 4
Create hope in stories by talking about hope.

Part 5
Create hope in stories by including symbols.

part 6
Create hope with heroes

Part 7
Create hope by favouring the underdog.

8)Create hope by reporting the unexpected good thing.

Karin Dufault and Benita Martocchio: Hope is a multidimensional dynamic life force characterized by a confident yet uncertain expectation of achieving a future good which, to the hoping person, is realistically possible and personally significant.

Long ago, when I was a new hire at the Hope Foundation of Alberta my attention was engaged by this interesting-if-awkward definition of hope put forward by Karin Dufault and Benita Martocchio. I was intrigued by the paradox ofconfident-yet-uncertain, drawn to the idea of an unidentified future good.
My interest was to be shared by many others. Over the years, this definition has been reprinted hundreds of times in academic and general interest articles and books. It was the forerunner of many of the ideas we now use in counselling. At a time when studying hope was a truly revolutionary idea, they had distilled it from multiple conversations over a two-year period with 35 elderly cancer patients and 42 others who were terminally ill. No wonder it seemed to be a little bit confusing! Small wonder, therefore, that so many people, through the lens of their own experience, have come to appreciate the truth in it. I thought a lot about this definition as I set out to do the job for which I had been hired, a hope novice talking to distressed people whose problems I hadn’t the power to solve, people who were looking, if not for solutions, then for somebody who could give them reason to hope. I often asked myself: “What is it that could help me and them be confident—if uncertain—about a future good? What could cause me to expect a future good for things that were significant to me?” Asking these questions of myself over and over again, I noticed that I had accumulated a repertoire of stories about incidents in my life where things had turned out better than I expected. Later, my colleague Dr. Denise Larsen would say I had been gathering stories as evidence for hope.
The act of noticing and then talking about things that turned out better than I expected has become a habit with me. Among the dozens of hope strategies you might observe in my daily work, it is the one that has most often given me reason to hope when I couldn’t see a clear path to a good future. When, at workshops, I ask the participants to tell each other stories of things that turned out better than they expected, the room seems to fill with hope.
To get the best hope mileage from a story about something that turned out better than you expected, you need to stress the contrast between what you expected to happen and what actually happened. It’s best to play up the element of surprise. Think, for a moment about the story of the Three Little Pigs. Think of those deal little pigs. First, the big bad wolf blew down that lovely straw house, leaving a pig homeless. The he blew down the house of sticks. Count two homeless pigs. What do we expect to happen the third time? The wolf is not uncertain. He’s done it before, he can do it again. As we follow the pigs, we have little reason to hope for a good outcome. All the evidence indicates that a pig’s house is not a fortress. Piggy building skills have shown little promise. But then, against all the odds, we find that a pig has built a house so sturdy that it can stand strong in the hurricane of a wolf’s desperate breath. What might we expect in the eye of other hurricanes?

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