Is there a difference between a hope and a wish?


hope 001   “If there’s a single lesson that life teaches us, it’s that wishing doesn’t make it so.”
Lev Grossman, The Magicians

Is there a difference between a hope and a wish? The Webster’s dictionary defines hope as the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best. The word wish is defined as to want, desire, long for. In an article written on the website  an example is given in sentence form that states thus:

“’John wishes he could pass the exam” and “John hopes he passes the exam.” In the first sentence, John has this impossible desire to pass the exam, but he doesn’t think he could. Meaning he’s hopeless so he wishes. On the other hand, the second sentence implies that John thinks it is likely for him to pass the exam, but there are still some chances of failing it so he hopes for his success.”

I find that the more I have learned about wishes the less empowered I have felt about this childhood word yet I also find that I use it often in everyday conversation. Take today for instance, it is snowing and I said to my daughter, “Oh I wish it would stop snowing so that we can get on with our accomplishing while the year is still so young.” I know very well that the year will move along and the snow will stop falling and the season will change. The distinction I make at this moment is that although I know my wish will not affect the change I am seeking I hold hope within me that I just have to endure the passage of time to get to the next season. Wishes may get me nowhere at this moment but without the wish the hope could not be born and that hope carries me through to the next possibility. Hope offers the starting point to the next possibility.

What I have learned so far is that it all starts and ends with hope. As I was nearing the end of the article from the website, I read,

“Simply put, “wish” should be used when referring to an impossibility or to a desire with little chance of coming true. “Hope” should be used in a sentence that implies a longing for things or events that are highly probable to happen.”

The pessimist in me would simply wish for the world to heal and for there to be peace on earth but the undying optimist in me doesn’t want to believe that I am referring to an impossibility with little chance of my wish coming true. I want desperately to hope that peace is highly probable and that I can start right this minute to work toward that outcome.

Where do I start? I often find that when I have a question in my heart and I say it out loud that within days an answer comes around. Has that ever happened to you? Deepak Chopra says, “If you live the questions, life will move you into the answers.” I have to hope that in order for him to say that he has experienced the actual power of those words. So, in the case of my wish for peace my actions could be something as simple as starting with a prayer for peace. Where will that lead me simply because I asked the question and created an action step? Now that this hope is part of my consciousness I imagine that I will be much more aware of possibilities toward affecting peace. A next question might look like, “What can I teach my children so that they too can affect peace on earth?”

“We dream to give ourselves hope. To stop dreaming – well, that’s like saying you can never change your fate.”
Amy Tan, The Hundred Secret Senses

Today I attended a webinar featuring the author, Shane Lopez, of the new book, Making Hope Happen. In his book he talks at length about how hope is necessary but not sufficient for happiness and that it is a valuable virtue that sustains us. Shane Lopez is a hope researcher. Listening to his presentation I could not help but be mesmerized by his message and research:

“Hope encompasses awe, interest, joy, excitement and euphoria however, hope also walks hand in hand with fear and can hijack us. If you have hope for something you want don’t let go of what kind of leap of faith it will take to work through all the steps toward your goal. Big thinking without stick-to-itiveness is not hoping, it’s wishing. The message is clear”, he says. “Hope matters. Hope is a choice. Hope can be learned and spread to others. How well we hope determines how well we live.”

I believe this because I see it with my coaching clients. As we work together to achieve their goals I can feel their hope rising and their determination gets stronger. Their energy is contagious. In order to build hope we must first hold hope within us. I can think of no other way to spread the idea of hope than to bring it in to conversation.

“Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me… Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.”
Shel Silverstein

Call to Action

1-      How can you hold hope within you?

2-      What is one way you can spread hope to others?

3-      If you could hope for something, what would it be and why?

I invite you to share your hopes with me. If enough people read about your hopes then we have successfully created energy around your hope and I do believe the universe will respond kindly. I also invite you to go to and take his hope assessment. It will only take 2 minutes, no personal information required, but the results are a fantastic catalyst toward discovering your own level of hope and how to start creating the world energy we need to balance the turmoil. Journey On….. with hope, Lisa.

If you would like to learn more about how coaching with Lisa can help you please email to:

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