Hope Floats Pt I

There are two aspects to hope that we will look at this week, and both will demonstrate just how important hope is in any endeavour, including survival. In fact, hope may  even be a critical aspect of survival. One aspect is self-reliance, and the other is being reliant on others. Independence and interdependence are equally important in hope. As look at this a little, we’re going to delve into a little bit of dark research from the 1950s.

Dr. Curt “The Rat Torturer” Richter conducted some studies on rats with a few different variables including domestic rats, wild rats, hybrid rats, and shaved whiskers. I’m not going to get overly graphic with the research because quite frankly much of it seems pointless and cruel to me, but it is important to know that the research was based on how long rats would swim for and how long it took for them to drown.

We’ll start with looking at self-reliance. What Richter found was that rats who had their whiskers shaved would give up swimming and drown considerably faster than those with whiskers. Essentially, when a rat lost it’s ability to interact with its environment and rely on it’s senses, it gave up hope and simply let itself die. It’s grim. King Solomon sums this up perfectly, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Hope is such an important aspect of not just achieving goals, but maintaining life itself.

In psychological terms, this would appear to be the beginning of learned helplessness. This occurs when a person has low efficacy (they don’t believe they can achieve their objective). The sad reality of the rats in this study is that they had no chance of controlling their environment at all. However, rats with whiskers had a higher belief and would fight harder and for longer. They felt they had the tools needed.

Here are today’s three takeaways:

1 – We will see this week how the environment we are raised in is critical to our belief that we can keep going and hope for more.

2 – When we don’t believe we have the tools we need we tend to lose hope, no matter what the reality of the situation is.

3 – Some people are just jerks. No matter how hard you work, or what you try to do, they just want to watch you struggle.

Think about your environment and the things you have learned. Question whether your experience is enough, and think about new ideas and creative options. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

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