We all hope for something.
At least I HOPE you hope for something. The loss of hope is dangerous – of course mentally, but also physically. Hope is an especially powerful force for good in our health.
Science has been able to demonstrate the very real biologic effects of hope. Believing and expecting that something good can happen, for example, can block physical pain. With even a little bit of hope the brain releases endorphins and enkephalins – substances that act like morphine in eliminating pain and providing a sense of well-being. The pain lessens a little, which increases hope that the pain may lessen even more. It creates a positive cycle leading to healing.
Hope can also change the function of the autonomic nervous system, which controls many physical functions that we don’t usually think about, such as heart rate, gastrointestinal function, and our level of tension or relaxation. It can alter the chemical function of portions of the brain.