When we think of traits we can develop to become better people and improve our lives, we often think of words like “determination,” “commitment,” and “honesty.” One word we don’t often think of is one that definitely plays a role in self-improvement and many other areas of our lives: Hope. While it might seem odd at first to consider hope to be a valuable trait to have when you’re wanting to better yourself, it does play a crucial role in the process. Here’s a breakdown of the role that hope plays in self-improvement.

Hope is an expectation or desire for something in the future. There is a lot of research suggesting that having hope in the future benefits those who have it in the present moment. In other words, there is something about being optimistic about the future that changes people’s mindset and behavior for the better. Here are some of the ways it can help.

Increases Willpower and Determination

There is a correlation between how much hope a person has and their motivation to do difficult things. It makes sense—why would someone want to do something difficult if they didn’t think their efforts would pay off? Conversely, people who believe that their hard work will have an effect on the future are more likely to work harder, even in the face of adversity.

Hope and Addiction Recovery

An excellent example of how hope helps people do difficult things is how it influences people who are recovering from addiction. Almost every addiction recovery program places a strong emphasis on having hope, and for good reason, too—instilling hope into the minds of recovering substance abusers is one of the first steps to recovery. Addiction recovery is a notoriously challenging process that requires a lot of motivation to tackle, so having hope is essential.

Hope Inspires Optimism

Being optimistic is an attractive and beneficial trait to have. Optimistic people are attractive to employers, love interests, friends, and family members alike, and having hope in the future plays a fundamental role in being optimistic.

Take Some Time to Be Hopeful

Like all character traits, being hopeful is a learned skill that can be developed. We encourage you to take some time each day (say, just before you retire to bed at night) to think of the future and instill in yourself hope for things to come. We promise you’ll be glad you did!