This is a transcription of a short clip in which Dr. Hellman shares more behind his research on Hope, including as it applies to well-being and Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES). You can watch the video here.

We’ve created this framework of hope centered and trauma informed so when we begin to become more and more aware of trauma-informed practice, we recognize that trauma exists in our classrooms and our schools and in our communities. The question becomes, “What do we do about that?” and the answer is hope. The science is really good.

What is the opposite of hope? The typical answer that I get is despair, and while I appreciate your participation, I’ll tell you that you’re wrong. It is not despair. The opposite of hope is apathy.

 It is this idea of hopelessness, it’s when we give up, it’s when I look at a goal and recognize that no matter what I do I’m going to fail – so why try? Despair is still a part of hope because I desire the goal – it’s just that my pathways are blocked. Wo what I want you to think about, is in this context of losing hope is when individuals are in despair, what does desperation look like? Because despair leads to desperate action which are oftentimes leads to very dysfunctional pathways in order to achieve goals. What we’ve learned is that when we start to focus on this willpower piece, this idea is really based upon where we have the ability to focus our attention.

 It is this idea of hopelessness, it’s when we give up, it’s when I look at a goal and recognize that no matter what I do I’m going to fail – so why try? Despair is still a part of hope because I desire the goal – it’s just that my pathways are blocked. Wo what I want you to think about, is in this context of losing hope is when individuals are in despair, what does desperation look like? Because despair leads to desperate action which are oftentimes leads to very dysfunctional pathways in order to achieve goals. What we’ve learned is that when we start to focus on this willpower piece, this idea is really based upon where we have the ability to focus our attention.

If we think about what’s going on with COVID, in our experience, we had these ways of doing things (pathways) that we were familiar with and then the crisis hit and the fear and uncertainty and the despair. What we know, is that lower hope individuals will get caught up and stay in that emotional based coping framework of fear and despair which leads to social isolation. However, we’ve been looking for how people have creatively found these alternative pathways to achieving those goals and so we’ve been really focused on when we experience these crisis how that influences our capacity to hope.


Hope Rising SEL’s curriculum is based on Dr. Chan Hellman’s definition of Hope, and it is making a difference in many schools and communities across the country.

If your school isn’t using My Best Me yet, we would love to help you bring Hope to your school. Our sales team is ready to answer your questions and demo My Best Me for you. Contact us to start spreading Hope in your school.