Resiliency and Hope

Hope and resilience are qualities for maintaining or improving mental health and can act as protection when facing difficult circumstances and hardships (Duggal, Liberta & Sacks-Zimmerman, 2016).

What Exactly is Hope?

Hope is an attitude of optimism, positivity, cheer, and expectancy for a good outcome.

Hope is also achieved when goals are met and a plan to meet these goals are put into place (Duggal, Liberta & Sacks-Zimmerman, 2016).  Factors that help a person stay goal-directed are determination, drive, and purpose.  An individual must also be able to create other paths, as needed, to meet the intended goal. Hopeful people also can maintain realistic optimism by positively reflecting on circumstances to maintain good judgment; and see obstacles as challenges to conquer while using optimism to plan other ways to meet these goals (Duggal, Liberta & Sacks-Zimmerman, 2016). Ultimately, hope is an important quality because it is linked life satisfaction and serves as a guard against stressful events and the impact of negative circumstances (Duggal, Liberta & Sacks-Zimmerman, 2016).


On the other hand, resilience is the ability to positively adjust and respond to hardship, tension, anxiety, stress and difficult conditions with the ability to “bounce back” without surrendering to hopelessness or despair. People with high resilience characteristically show openness to new experiences, emotional positivity and have optimistic outlook (Duggal, Liberta & Sacks-Zimmerman, 2016). A highly resilient person has the ability to positively cope with conflict, failure, uncertainty and difficult circumstances allowing the resilient to adapt to major life changes, resulting in the person growing wiser, stronger and more powerful. Studies show that resilience is strongly linked to longevity, success, happiness, health and relational satisfaction.

Hopeless vs. Hopeful

People respond in different ways to life’s stressors. Some people self-harm in the face of problems, harsh conditions and difficult circumstances and others trudge on through until progress is made and the outcome or goal is met (Ho, Huen, Ip, & Yip, 2015). It has been found that depression and hopelessness are key factors in determining negative outcomes. However, hopeful people find ways to deal with very difficult circumstances in positive ways.

What is the difference?  Those who remain hopeful during difficult situations have developed healthy strategies to cope during adversity and times of crisis. This leads to building and maintaining resilience during difficult stressful times (Ho, Huen, Ip, & Yip, 2015).

Therefore, it is important to develop and maintain hope because it acts as a buffer against negative self-harming symptoms and acts. Hope contributes to better results in various negative situations (Ho, Huen, Ip, & Yip, 2015). Individuals who struggle with despair or hopelessness are not able to create other ways fight through tough times or create new realistic healthy goals; and therefore, are vulnerable to behaviors that are hurtful and harmful. This is due to the inability to see hope for a bright and a promising future (Ho, Huen, Ip, & Yip, 2015).

Consequently, both, hope and resilience, are needed to maintain a positive point of view when facing trials and challenging circumstances (Duggal, Liberta & Sacks-Zimmerman, 2016).

Hope and resilience: The role of occupational therapy

Occupational therapy (OT) plays a vital role in helping a person build or maintain hope and resilience during difficult circumstances by working with people to improve quality of life and life satisfaction by assessing how a person perceives progress towards goals.  OT builds hope by creating person-specific plans to help move the person toward their goal.  OT also helps to strengthen positive feelings and beliefs about oneself; and assesses and develops a plan to improve emotional, mental and physical health and wellness (American Occupational Therapy Association, 2014). 

For more information on improving or maintaining hope and resilience, please contact Life Wellness at


American Occupational Therapy Association. (2014). Occupational therapy practice framework: Domain and process (3rd ed.). American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 68, S1–S48.

Duggal D., Liberta T., Sacks-Zimmerman A. (2016). The impact of hope and resilience on multiple factors in neurosurgical patients. Cureus, 8(10): e849. DOI 10.7759/cureus.849

Ho, S., Huen, J., Ip, B. & Yip, P. (2015). Hope and Hopelessness: The role of hope in

buffering the impact of hopelessness on suicidal ideation. PLoS ONE, 10(6): e0130073. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0130073

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