Capital Investment Advisors

#204 – Finding Hope with Chan Hellman

Chan Hellman was nearly suicidal until someone in his life gave him hope. Now, he works to spread it to others. As the founding Director of The Hope Research Center at the University of Oklahoma, his research is focused on hope as a psychological strength for children, adults, and families experiencing trauma and adversity.

Chan believes one key is to start small. If your goal is to get healthy, that doesn’t have to mean a gold medal in the Olympics. Just go buy some running shoes.

His research shows there is no such thing as too much hope. Even when the chances are slim, there are usually pathways to get where you want to go.

In today’s episode, Chan teaches us how to find hope and implement it in our lives. He says imagination is the instrument of hope. We don’t have to summit the mountain in one day, but if we can imagine our future selves reaching wherever it is we want to go, it generates the willpower and motivation it takes to get there.

And if none of that hooks you, he even uses the Marvel movies as an example. If he can find hope for Iron Man, I know he can find it for you and me!

Read The Full Transcript From This Episode

(click below to expand and read the full interview)

  • Wes Moss [00:00:00]:
    Chan Hellman was nearly suicidal until someone in his life gave him hope. Now he works to spread it to others. He’s the founder and director of the Hope Research center at the University of Oklahoma. His research is focused on hope as a psychological strength for kids, adults, and families experiencing trauma or adversity. Chan believes one key is to just start small. If your goal is to get healthy, it doesn’t mean you have to get a gold medal at the Olympics. Just go buy some running shoes. One step at a time.Wes Moss [00:00:39]:
    And his research shows that there is no such thing as too much hope. Even when chances are slim, there’s usually pathways to get where you want to go. So in today’s episode, Chan teaches us how to find hope and implement hope in our lives. He says imagination is the instrument of hope. We don’t have to summit the mountain in one day. But if we can imagine our future selves reaching wherever it is we wanna go, it generates the willpower and the motivation it takes to get there. And if none of that hooks you, he even uses the Marvel movies as an example. Some of my favorite.

    Wes Moss [00:01:16]:
    So if he can find hope for Iron man or Captain America or the Hulk, they’re all my favorites. I know he can help find it for you and me. I’m Wes Moss. The prevailing thought in America is that you’ll never have enough money, and it’s almost impossible to retire early. Actually, I think the opposite is true. For more than 20 years, I’ve been researching, studying, and advising american families, including those who started late, on how to retire sooner and happier. So my mission with retire sooner podcast is to help a million people retire earlier while enjoying the adventure along the way. I’d love for you to be one of them.

    Wes Moss [00:01:53]:
    Let’s get started. Chan, there’s so many things I want to ask about. The topic today is hope, which is the coolest topic we’ve had in a very long time. And you tell a funny story about when you first started college. Let’s just right out of the gate. Tell me about your initial collegiate. Now, you’re a professor at the University of Oklahoma, but tell us about when you first went to college.

    Chan Hellman [00:02:17]:
    Yeah, so my first semester at college, my grade point average was 0.56. And what that means is I failed every class but advanced swimming and lifesaving, I gotta be in that. And so the university invited me to step away for a while and, you know, gather my thoughts.

    Wes Moss [00:02:44]:
    And then you became a professor, and.

    Chan Hellman [00:02:46]:
    Then, yeah, I came back and, you know, I was really that aimless student didn’t really know what I wanted to do. Didn’t really fit in anywhere. And then I took a psychology class, and, boy, my whole world changed. I knew exactly what I wanted to do.

    Wes Moss [00:03:05]:
    So, of course, the topic here is hope, and you are, I would say, one of the foremost, leading experts in the world around this topic of hope, which we all kind of think we know what it is. But when you dive into it, there’s a lot more to hope. And you’re gonna help our audience with that today, because it’s a very powerful. Is it the right word? Emotion? It’s an emotion. Plus, it’s not just an emotion. But before we even get to that, what is the good news around what are the outcomes of more hope in our lives?

    Chan Hellman [00:03:39]:
    So, hope has been identified as one of the strongest predictors of our well being, of our capacity to thrive for children, for adults, for families. So we see significant outcomes associated with mental wellbeing, physical health. We see significant improvements in pain tolerance, for instance, in recovery from very traumatic diagnoses like cancer or diabetes, better treatment outcomes associated with that in the workplace. We’re actually identifying that when we nurture hope in the workplace, significant reductions in burnout. And our Oklahoma Department of Human Services just connected Hope to a 17% reduction in turnover in the workforce, $61 million cost savings to taxpayers, and longevity.

    Wes Moss [00:04:37]:
    So it’s lower turnover. And have we been able to quantify that, or we know it just isn’t, increases longevity in some cases?

    Chan Hellman [00:04:45]:
    No, it’s statistically. We’ve quantified that. We did an initial study several years ago here in Tulsa, Oklahoma, just an initiative called how hopeful is. Tulsa? Partnered with the health department and found a really strong correlation between hope and life expectancy.

    Wes Moss [00:05:06]:
    All right, well, let’s define it from your perspective, which is a deeper definition than I think, what most Americans are walking around thinking what hope is. So what to you that studies this and teaches this and researches this? How do you define hope? What is it?

    Chan Hellman [00:05:21]:
    Sure. So hope is the expectation or the belief that the future is going to be better, and more importantly, that I have a role to play in pursuing that future. So it’s a really simple definition, Sid.

    Wes Moss [00:05:37]:
    That’s what intrigued me here, is that hope, before reading your material, is that I think the future will be better. But that’s only half of it. That’s right. The other half of hope is that we have something to do with it which is different from. Is it different from optimism? Or maybe it’s hope versus wish hope. We can do something about wish. We just.

    Chan Hellman [00:06:02]:
    Yeah. So if we think about really the core components of hope, it’s about, you know, our ability to set important goals or desirable goals for the future. But more importantly, do we have the ability or the capacity to identify the pathways or the strategies to achieve those goals? And then ultimately, do we have the willpower? Can we muster the mental energy and focus our attention on those pathway pursuits so that part of the definition and description of hope differentiates it from both optimism and wishing. So wishing is when we have a desire for an outcome. I hope there are no tornadoes today here in Oklahoma. I greatly desire that, but I have no pathways. Wishing is passive towards the future. Hope is about taking action to pursue that future.

    Wes Moss [00:06:56]:
    Yeah, I want my team to win. I’m hopeful that my team will win, but it doesn’t. That’s not, that’s actually not hope. That’s a, that’s more. That’s just. I wish. I wish they would win.

    Chan Hellman [00:07:07]:
    Right. You know, I travel a lot. I’m sure you do as well. You know, I get on a plane and I hope that the planes are on time. I hope there are no delays.

    Wes Moss [00:07:19]:
    And, gosh, I hope the plane just doesn’t go down.

    Chan Hellman [00:07:22]:
    Yeah, I don’t even want to go there.

    Wes Moss [00:07:25]:
    But again, that’s really, that’s just wishful. I wish I have no control.

    Chan Hellman [00:07:30]:
    That’s right. That’s exactly.

    Wes Moss [00:07:31]:
    Unless I’m Idris Elba in hijacked who? He actually helped the plane not go down. So there’s something that can happen if you’re an active passenger. All right, so you spent some of your high school years, you spent as homeless, and I know you talk a lot about hope in relation to trauma and difficulties we’ve gone through our life and how that can impact. So let’s start with that. What happened if I go back to high school for you?

    Chan Hellman [00:08:02]:
    Sure. So I made the decision ultimately, my father, who was a lot of fond memories, I guess I should start there, but a lot of adversity as well. He was a drug dealer, and I was involved in that process from a very early age, ultimately made that transition into being homeless, where I spent every day really focused on where am I going to get access to food, how am I going to stay safe, where am I going to sleep tonight? And so really just day to day survival.

    Wes Moss [00:08:48]:
    You had to get out, essentially, of that situation, and you landed with no money and landed home, but you still were able to go to high school.

    Chan Hellman [00:08:58]:
    I was actually very successful in keeping my situation hidden so I could actually go to school. Very early, show up very early, go to the gym, take a shower, for instance, because I was also a student athlete during that time. School was the one place I got a meal, and it was really, you know, a couple of teachers who really, oh, kind of just leaned into me, you know, that helped me see that something different is possible.

    Wes Moss [00:09:36]:
    And they knew. Do you think they knew?

    Chan Hellman [00:09:38]:
    No, they didn’t. I’ve actually talked to the one teacher in particular who I attribute to saving my life.

    Wes Moss [00:09:46]:
    Can you tell us that story?

    Chan Hellman [00:09:47]:
    Sure. Sure. So I was really. I just transitioned into homelessness. I was in 8th grade, and one day during school, I just was. Well, I’ll just be blunt. I had set a plan. I was going to escape the pain.

    Chan Hellman [00:10:06]:
    So I had a plan to end my life, had a date. And on that day, this teacher came up and leaned into me and just, you know, told me I was going to be okay. He knew I was struggling. He didn’t really know what was happening. And literally that evening, as I had the shotgun barrel underneath my chin, that all I could keep hearing was his voice saying, you’re going to be okay. And that I literally, that’s why I. Well, that’s why I think I didn’t go forward with that plan.

    Wes Moss [00:10:45]:
    And then was that you weren’t really thinking about the study or research the study of hope then. But that kind of plays into how you talk about it, how we define it, and how we can increase our levels of this. So let’s walk through that. What are the components of it?

    Chan Hellman [00:11:03]:
    Yeah. So hope is very personal to me, obviously, but it’s also very professionally. You know, I’m fortunate enough to be a professor where I get to research this concept of hope and how trauma and adversity rob us of our capacity for hope. And I think this one is one of our studies that I think will really resonate with you, your audience, is that when you and I are experiencing adversity and stress, even in our day to day adversity and stress, we’re much more likely to set goals that are avoidant in nature. But when we’re able to nurture and restore hope, we see a transition towards an achievement mindset. And this becomes really important as we think about hope, because, you know, if. Imagine that I’m a basketball player, I step out on the court and my mindset is I want to get the ball and shoot the winning shot for the team, that’s an achievement mindset. But if that same player steps on the court and their mindset is, I hope they don’t throw me the ball because I’m probably gonna lose it and really disappoint my team.

    Chan Hellman [00:12:14]:
    That’s an avoidant mindset. The importance is think about how those two players behave on the court. So the nature of our goals drives our pathways thinking.

    Wes Moss [00:12:26]:
    Those are both chan. There’s hope in both, right. The first one is I hope we win, but I don’t want to be part, I don’t want to be the guy on the line for this.

    Chan Hellman [00:12:36]:

    Wes Moss [00:12:37]:
    So the other is I hope we win, and I want to be the guy on the line. They’re both hopeful strategies. One is, to your point, is avoidance, and one is, what would you, would you call it achievement based or constructive?

    Chan Hellman [00:12:49]:
    Yeah, it’s constructive or positive. Some people might refer to it. Both are very, very important. For instance, when the pandemic first hit, we all moved to remote work, and we went to remote work so that we wouldn’t get exposed to the virus. Now, not getting exposed to the virus is a good goal. The problem is that it’s coming from fear and uncertainty, and it’s the fear and uncertainty that’s driving that goal. So that’s what I study. And then how do we turn that ship around?

    Wes Moss [00:13:26]:
    Well, first, how do we measure it? And I’m sure you’ve done it in many different ways, but in general, how have you found it best to quantify this?

    Chan Hellman [00:13:35]:
    Yeah. So we have standard validated measures. There’s an adult hope scale, takes about seven or eight minutes to take the test and to get your score. There’s a children’s hope scale, which is validated for children ages seven to 17. It’s also, it takes about, you know, about seven to ten minutes to administer in score. And we just developed a brand new measure. It’s currently under review for publication. But it’s this concept of collective hope.

    Chan Hellman [00:14:13]:
    And I’ve really gotten kind of interested that if individual hope is so powerful, what would collective hope look like in an organization or a community?

    Wes Moss [00:14:25]:
    Give me an example of a question for either one. Let’s say we’re doing, I’ve got four kids, I think I sit them down and say, hey, take this hope scale test as a baseline. What are the kind of questions are you asking?

    Chan Hellman [00:14:39]:
    Yeah, so it’s going to be generally pathways and willpower questions like, I can find many strategies to achieve my goals, or it might say that I can find the energy to pursue the goals that I desire. There may even be a question about even when I face barriers, I can generally find strategies to still pursue my.

    Wes Moss [00:15:06]:
    Goals, by the way, this is what, on a scale? Scale one to five?

    Chan Hellman [00:15:10]:
    Yeah. So a scale like what we call a Likert type scale. So, you know, kind of like a strongly disagree to strongly agree. So it’s a little longer than that, but again, it doesn’t take very long at all. Your audience can search for these on the Internet. They’re readily available. Easy access for both children.

    Wes Moss [00:15:30]:
    Would you call it a hope scale? So an adult hope scale?

    Chan Hellman [00:15:33]:
    Adult hope scale, or the children’s hope scale.

    Wes Moss [00:15:36]:
    And then that, does that give us a sense of how we are and today, or in general?

    Chan Hellman [00:15:43]:
    Sure. So it measures, there’s actually two different measures. One that measures kind of where you are right now today, and the other one is more what we would refer to as dispositional, which is, I’m generally this way with the goals that I have. I prefer the dispositional or kind of that stable characteristic. It’s more predictive of those positive outcomes. For instance, if you can show a two point increase in a child’s hope score, it will predict a letter grade change in a classroom. It is that powerful. A children’s hope scale is a better predictor of first year college performance and retention than standardized testing or high school gpas.

    Chan Hellman [00:16:35]:

    Wes Moss [00:16:37]:
    No wonder you’ve dedicated your career to this. So it’s a powerful tool, but we can get better at our hope. Our hope scale or our hope, I guess, our internal hope. What would you call it? Would you call it a baseline?

    Chan Hellman [00:16:54]:
    Sure. Yeah. So that’s the beauty of this concept, is because hope is a cognitive process that involves our ability to set goals, identify patterns, pathways, and to really generate that willpower. Because it’s a cognitive process. We can teach it. We know it is something that we can teach and learn. And I’ll tell you, we’re working right now with three and four year olds in preschool doing kindergarten readiness strategies using hope, and four year olds are teaching their parents what hope is in classrooms.

    Wes Moss [00:17:33]:
    All right, what’s an example? Not necessarily a four year old or anybody, a 15 year old, a 35 year old. What’s an example of how someone can increase their propensity towards how you’ve described hope?

    Chan Hellman [00:17:50]:
    So really, let’s just think about the three components, goals, pathways, and willpower.

    Wes Moss [00:17:56]:
    All right, well, I want to. I don’t know if we’ve covered that yet, but those are maybe. Let’s start with that again real quick. So hope is goals, pathway, willpower. Can you just do. Tell us what those three things are?

    Chan Hellman [00:18:08]:
    So hope is based upon a really simple concept. It’s based upon goals, pathways, and willpower. Now, goals are the cornerstone of everything with hope, from the moment you wake up until the moment you go to bed, you and I are pursuing goals in our life. We are goal driven. The question with hope is whether or not we have the ability to identify the pathways or the roadmaps that we’re going to use to get there from here. And then willpower is that mental energy that you and I have to dedicate towards those pathways. This is really about the ability to focus our attention and intention on those pathway pursuits.

    Wes Moss [00:18:53]:
    So it’s a three part recipe, essentially.

    Chan Hellman [00:18:56]:
    Exactly, exactly.

    Wes Moss [00:19:00]:
    We keep hearing that inflation is coming down, but the past three years, the common man inflation gauge is still up over 20%. That’s necessities like food, gas, utilities and shelter. How can you possibly keep up? Well, one option is income investing. That’s using a combination of growing stock, dividends, bonds for more cash flow, and other areas that can be a hedge against inflation. Look, inflation is tough. Let us help you overcome it. Schedule a time directly with our Dot.

    Wes Moss [00:19:28]:
    That’s your dot. So then we get to, how do we teach them, right? I guess we have to work on, first of all, we have to work on all three. To some extent, we do.

    Chan Hellman [00:19:40]:
    The first thing that I would tell people is to, let’s start small. Let’s not focus on summiting the mountain, but let’s start really small. So what is one thing that you would really like to accomplish this week? Let’s talk about that goal a little bit. Make sure we define it. One of the things that I would do is say, now, imagine that you’ve achieved that goal. How is your life different? What changes for you? How do you feel when you, when you achieve that goal? And this falls under what we call imagination is the instrument of hope. And so it’s the ability for you to see yourself in the future. And what that does is that it generates that willpower, that motivation for this.

    Wes Moss [00:20:33]:
    Where is the pathway, though? So if we.

    Chan Hellman [00:20:35]:
    So, yeah, so once we identify that desirable outcome, now we’re going to say, okay, let’s, let’s brainstorm, uh, two or three strategies that we could use to get there from here. So, for instance, if my goal is to get healthy, I know that’s a big lofty. That’s a goal.

    Wes Moss [00:20:54]:
    That’s a good one. Yeah, sure.

    Chan Hellman [00:20:56]:
    But I’ve got, there’s lots of pathways, so I could focus on my nutrition, I could join a gym, I could go for a daily walk. So those are three different strategies. They may be related, but they’re three different strategies. Now, the next thing I’m going to think about, or ask you is, let’s brainstorm. What are some of the barriers to those eating healthy? My schedule is just horrible. I’m eating out at restaurants all the time, so sometimes that’s going to be really hard for me, joining a gym. Same reason I would never be consistent in being able to get there. But no matter where I’m at, I can go for a walk or a run.

    Chan Hellman [00:21:43]:
    So that’s the pathway I’m going to choose. Okay, now I’ve got the pathway. The next thing we’ve got to start identifying is what are the steps in that pathway? What are the small benchmarks that we’re going to need to identify to pursue that goal?

    Wes Moss [00:21:59]:
    And is that the willpower side of this?

    Chan Hellman [00:22:03]:
    This actually starts to show the interplay between willpower and pathways. Once we identify a desirable goal, our energy, our desire is increased. But once we see the pathway in that first step or second step and say, I can do this, then our motivation continues to increase. Yeah.

    Wes Moss [00:22:26]:
    Which is hope, which to some extent, do you teach that hope, to some extent begets hope?

    Chan Hellman [00:22:33]:
    I was just gonna say that. That’s really the principle, is hope begets hope. And what this reminds us is to start small. You know, my goal is to get healthy, but my first step is to go buy some walking shoes or running shoes. My second step is to establish a schedule. I’m a morning person, so I’m going to run in the mornings. Those are two things I know I can accomplish today. And so my motivation starts to increase as I meet those benchmarks.

    Wes Moss [00:23:06]:
    And there is this thought around the initial overcoming of the inertia on anything we’re doing. It’s harder in the beginning, and then we get. It takes less mental energy to continue on. And exercise is a perfect example of that. It’s the first, if you’re out of the gym for five years, the first couple times it’s just like a. It takes up the day. It’s a really big deal. And then as you do it more and more, and you can tell I’m speaking from experience here.

    Wes Moss [00:23:40]:
    I waited about five years of not working out, and several months ago I did some of these pathways to get back to doing it. And I remember just the first few were just a really big deal. It took up a lot of mental energy to go, took a lot of mental energy to finish that afterwards. Like, wow, that was a lot and then now it’s much more just, oh, I’m going to go work out and it’s not going to take up half a day. But is that the, that is in general, I guess that’s willpower. Get. It’s not necessarily. I’m hopeful.

    Wes Moss [00:24:11]:
    Maybe it is.

    Chan Hellman [00:24:12]:
    Well, it is, but it’s also, it’s making that transition to requiring less and less of your mental energy. In fact, what probably happens for you is once you get into that rhythm or the habit of that pathway, missing the workout is probably causing more sort of alertness, awareness and taking up more of your willpower than what’s it going to take for you to get to the gym tomorrow?

    Wes Moss [00:24:46]:
    You tell a story about meeting, I think it was a. He was a teenager who was going through huge adversity. Tell our audience that story.

    Chan Hellman [00:24:57]:
    So David was this young man’s name. He was 19 years old. And to be honest, David’s the one who introduced me to this concept of hope. This was really my first interaction into it. And David shared with me that three months earlier he learned that he was HIV positive. As a psychologist, I’m listening to him thinking about depression, anxiety. He further shares with me that when he told his parents that he was HIV positive, they kicked him out of the house. He had spent those last two weeks homeless.

    Chan Hellman [00:25:32]:
    And so now I’m thinking about, you know, depression, anxiety, social isolation. And as I’m thinking about these things with, in listening to David, he shifts the conversation by sharing with me that he’s gone down to the local community college. He made an appointment with an academic counselor, came back to that appointment, enrolled in his first semester of college. And it just really struck me in that moment that I realized, really for the first time, that well being is more than the reduction of what’s wrong with us.

    Wes Moss [00:26:10]:
    Say that again. The well being?

    Chan Hellman [00:26:13]:
    Yeah, well being is more than the reduction of what’s wrong. So as a psychologist, it’s very important for us to identify depression and to engage in those strategies to mitigate depression, and that’s very important. But the reduction of depression is not happiness.

    Wes Moss [00:26:37]:
    What is it?

    Chan Hellman [00:26:38]:
    Well, it’s just that reduction of those depressive symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m experiencing a pleasant life or finding joy and contentment. And so what I started to realize was that David had this sort of future expectation in the midst of all this adversity, that at first, I’ll be honest, I thought it was optimism. And as I began to explore, that’s when I discovered that it was hope.

    Wes Moss [00:27:12]:
    Because it’s a focus around what is right and what we can continue to do more around. Focusing in on what is right versus what is wrong.

    Chan Hellman [00:27:21]:
    That’s a great way of saying it. That’s absolutely right.

    Wes Moss [00:27:25]:
    What are. If we were to maybe walk through some of the physical and physiological changes maybe that people go through when they lose hope, what happens to someone?

    Chan Hellman [00:27:38]:
    Yeah. So the first thing, the loss of hope is what we refer to this as a process. When you and I experience a barrier to our pathway, we might experience anger, frustration, anxiety around that. If we’re unable to overcome that barrier, we might start to feel a sense of urgency. You and I feel those kinds of tensions in our body when whatever’s going to happen needs to happen right now, that urgency. The problem with urgency is that we can begin to make rash decisions, rash grasping of those pathways. And again, as we continue to transition, we next would move into despair, a feeling of just true angst around that thing that I cannot have. And then ultimately, the opposite of hope is apathy.

    Chan Hellman [00:28:42]:
    It’s when we give up, I’m not going to do it anymore.

    Wes Moss [00:28:48]:
    And that’s why the component of willpower is so important, because as that goes away, and then so does hope.

    Chan Hellman [00:28:55]:
    That’s exactly right. Willpower is really about your endurance during times of adversity. Can you endure through, and at what point do you just give up?

    Wes Moss [00:29:07]:
    And how do we work on that? I think that Sara audience is sitting here thinking, okay, how do I think, if I’m listening, I’m thinking, how do I get more hope? What do I do? I know how to set a goal. Now, maybe that’s easy for some people to say and not as easy for others. That’s right. So it is then setting this goal, then setting a pathway to be able to achieve it, but then how do we work on the willpower part of it?

    Chan Hellman [00:29:34]:
    Yeah. So there’s a couple strategies.

    Wes Moss [00:29:37]:
    And how do we know we’re not too hopeful? Is there? Is there? I guess you could be too optimistic. But would you say you can’t be too hopeful then?

    Chan Hellman [00:29:46]:
    The data doesn’t show that being too hope, what we would call extremely high hope, produces any type of negative outcome. So far, the research is showing you can’t be too hopeful. I think what people are sort of going to be wrestling with in that statement is the idea of false hope. And I want to be an NBA basketball star. Is that false hope? And the thing is, the probability is pretty low. But there are pathways, joining a team, you know, practicing your shots, et cetera. But you know, to go back to your original question, you know, what I would. What I would suggest is that people think about the domains in their life.

    Chan Hellman [00:30:41]:
    So let’s say my health or my relationships, my, you know, financial well being, my housing, employment, whatever. You know, identify. Write down maybe the three or four domains that are most important to you, and then pick one and start to set a goal. Maybe it’s the short term goal that we talked about earlier. And then once you identify those goals within those domains, then it’s, again, the pathways. How are you going to get there from here? What are some strategies? The idea about really nurturing that willpower comes from a couple of different places. One of those, and I refer to this as hope, is a social gift. And what I mean by that is hope is about relationships.

    Chan Hellman [00:31:38]:
    It’s about our connectedness to others. And so hope doesn’t really happen just in isolation with us. It happens in relationships. So we start to think about, you know, even going to a gym. Right. Having. Having a trainer or maybe having a couple of friends you go to the gym with as an accountability kind of partner. So the other thing is, and it’s still within that social aspect of it, is, you know, when you identify something that you desire, a goal, who is the hope model in your life? Who.

    Chan Hellman [00:32:13]:
    Who are people who have done that? And how did they get there from here? How do you start to research who they are, how they got there, and let them model those pathway strategies?

    Wes Moss [00:32:26]:
    You see, hope is a social gift or a social construct. That’s true. If you think about it, as I’m thinking this through, it’s hard to think about anything you’re hoping for that is just singular.

    Chan Hellman [00:32:40]:
    That’s absolutely right. You and I exist in our relationships, to our groups, and there’s real value in that. Social commerce. Right. When you and I work on a goal together that possibly could be more efficient and effective.

    Wes Moss [00:33:03]:
    As a parent, how can I teach hope more hope to my kids? And to some extent, I guess this, again, what’s helpful in this conversation is that it’s not optimism. It is really about. It’s. Well, you tell me, how do I teach my kids to be more hopeful?

    Chan Hellman [00:33:21]:
    Sure. So let’s start with pretty young kids. Although I think, quite frankly, I really enjoy Marvel movies, so I think this could go across the lifespan.

    Wes Moss [00:33:35]:
    Well, you are in the right place for that. You cannot find a bigger Marvel fan than me.

    Chan Hellman [00:33:42]:
    Well, I’ll tell you, every single movie is about hope. Every one of them. The main character has a goal in the movie, and at some point, the protagonist or whatever, they experience this tremendous barrier. So let’s just go with a Disney movie for small children.

    Wes Moss [00:34:02]:
    Okay, we’ll start there. But I’d much rather a marvel. I’d much rather an Avenger example. But I’m okay. We’ll start with Disney.

    Chan Hellman [00:34:11]:
    So working with really young children, which owns Marvel.

    Wes Moss [00:34:13]:
    So it’s okay.

    Chan Hellman [00:34:14]:
    Yeah. Right, right. It’s all in the same financial family. So let’s say that we’re sitting down watching a Disney show with our children, and one of the things you can do is, let’s say you’re going to stop and maybe get a snack or whatever, but you can start to have a conversation with your child about, you know, what is Nemo’s goal here? You know, in this moment? What is Nemo trying to achieve? And then when Nemo experiences that barrier, you know, he’s in the fish tank.

    Wes Moss [00:34:47]:
    And by the way, for those listeners who do not know the movie, finding Nemo.

    Chan Hellman [00:34:51]:
    Finding Nemo.

    Wes Moss [00:34:51]:
    You’re talking about a little orange fish here who seemingly impossible gold to go find his friends. But that’s right. His dad. His dad.

    Chan Hellman [00:35:02]:
    Dad. His dad. Right. And so, you know, he’s got these tremendous barriers. And so you can stop and talk to the children about, you know, how does Nemo feel? And why is it when we’re blocked from things that, you know. And the reason I think that it’s important to identify the, you know, that Nemo is sad and, you know, maybe angry is because I think we also need to help our children realize that those are normal, natural human emotions. And it’s okay, you know, we all will feel sad and angry and those kinds of things. But as the movie progresses, and this is my point, even to the Avengers side, is that in every one of these movies, the way in which the main character overcomes the barrier is exactly the same.

    Chan Hellman [00:35:50]:
    And what I mean by that is they never overcome the barrier alone. It’s always with their friends or some shared experience that people come together. And this is hope is a social gift played out.

    Wes Moss [00:36:08]:
    Yeah, it is. Even if you’re gonna go to the. Let’s call it, like, a superman analogy or a man of steel, another one of the best. Now, that’s not a marvel, but it’s.

    Chan Hellman [00:36:20]:
    Still one of the best.

    Wes Moss [00:36:22]:
    Even those films where you have the most powerful superhero, he always ends up teaming up with someone. It’s never a singular event. And I don’t know if I’ve. I never noticed that. But you’re right.

    Chan Hellman [00:36:35]:
    Well, even, you know, staying with the DC, you know, there’s even animosity sometimes within the characters that they still come together. Now with children, I think it’s an important opportunity to start to identify well who are people you can reach out to when you know, so your family, maybe some friends, maybe a teacher. But more importantly, when your friends are struggling, can you help them? Right. So it sort of helps teach that maybe that empathy a little bit. But I think movies are a great way. Children’s books, same thing, same strategy. And it’s kind of fun, right?

    Wes Moss [00:37:18]:
    It’s a lot of fun. It’s the best, I think. And now that my kids are a little older, I do miss a little bit. When they were a little younger, it was easier to sit down and watch a movie together. And now that they’re getting to be teenagers, that’s a little harder. I miss that. I miss the collective effervescence of watching a Marvel movie together. What about faith? What does your research say about the role of faith, which is.

    Wes Moss [00:37:50]:
    I don’t know. I don’t know if you put this in the hope camp because it’s. Well, you tell me.

    Chan Hellman [00:37:57]:
    Well, I think, first of all, I think faith and hope are really complementary concepts. First of all, once we understand that hope is about setting goals, finding those pathways, generating that willpower, then the next thing we need to understand is what are the values that you have that help you identify which goals you want to pursue, which pathways you choose, etcetera. And for some people, for many people, faith is that compass. So my faith helps me identify the goals that I value and to find those pathways that are righteous, that is consistent with my value system. So, for instance, if my goal is to get money for the weekend and my pathway is to run out to the parking lot here on campus and break into those vehicles, and I’m highly motivated to do that. I’m a high hope person. But if I think about what sort of buffers me from engaging in those negative pathways, faith can be a driver for people.

    Wes Moss [00:39:13]:
    So faith is almost this. It’s a guiding path for our pathways, for our goals, for our hope.

    Chan Hellman [00:39:21]:
    I’ve been involved in some research with more of a religious kind of driven view of faith. I was just interested, I’ve published research on mindfulness, for instance, and hope. But I was interested, for instance, if engagement in prayer, engagement in scripture, and what we find is that when youth, regardless of religion, by the way, regardless of religion, when youth engage in prayer, their hope scores are higher.

    Wes Moss [00:39:52]:
    Again here on the retire sooner podcast, there’s certainly a large element of our thinking through our finances and thinking through how we can get our finances to a fundamentally strong baseline so that we reduce our anxiety over time and we have more economic freedom to pursue the other side of what makes for a happy retirement, which would be the lifestyle choices. I know you’re not a retirement expert, but here on a retirement based show, what are some things that you can think about when you’re heading into retirement that you can think about and talk about hopefully in that next stage of life when we’re finished our primary career, which, by the way, is really tough for a lot of people.

    Chan Hellman [00:40:40]:
    Yeah. So I’m probably one or two years away from retiring from the university as a professor, and I’ll be doing hope work full time. But your question resonates a lot with me, because what I’ve been thinking about is in the next five years, in the next ten years, in the next 15 years, you know, what do I want my lifestyle to be like? And so in the first five years, my wife and I have talked about having one or two adventures. And so per year, or per year, no, within those five years, the first five years. So one is to maybe spend six months to a year in Europe.

    Wes Moss [00:41:28]:
    Oh, that is an adventure. I was thinking just a big trip you’re talking about. That’s a real adventure. Yeah.

    Chan Hellman [00:41:36]:
    So then we have to start thinking about, well, what is that going to cost? What’s that going to do to our retirement savings, etcetera? It really shapes, is Europe out of our price range? And then maybe we think about something smaller we can regole, you know, I think about it in that timeframe. For me, I also think about the legacy that I want to leave for my children and grandchildren. And by the way, as you mentioned, your children being a little bit older, minor, I have grandchildren who are between two years old and 14 years old. And all I got to tell you is having grandchildren is everything you had hoped being a parent would be. It’s a wonderful, wonderful experience.

    Wes Moss [00:42:30]:
    Do they live near you, by the way? Are they in Tulsa?

    Chan Hellman [00:42:33]:
    Yeah. So all of our grandchildren and our children live within about ten minutes of us. So we’re very fortunate in that regard.

    Wes Moss [00:42:41]:
    One of the, I wrote a chapter in what the happiest retirees know about family habits of happy versus unhappy retirees, and my research foundation that if we live near 50% or more of our adult children, our happy, our propensity to end up in the happy retiree versus unhappy retiree camp goes up between two and five times.

    Chan Hellman [00:43:11]:
    Oh, that’s wonderful. That’s wonderful.

    Wes Moss [00:43:13]:
    You’re clearly going to be a happy. That’s a huge. I think it’s a very. There’s a lot of different pieces to that recipe. I think that one is a. Carries a lot of weight. I think it’s a really, really important. So much so that I’ve had many conversations over the years with families that I counsel on the financial side, but I look at both sides of the equation that I’m trying to do everything I can to get parents near their adult children.

    Wes Moss [00:43:39]:
    And of course, that’s not always easy, right. Kids go to school out of state and then they end up getting a job out of state and meet someone from out of state and they get married and they stay. So it’s not always that easy. But I think it is a good. If I were a retiree and my kids lived all over the country, I would be hopeful, probably put in a pathway and have a lot of willpower to make sure I lived within driving distance of my kids. So the legacy of your children?

    Chan Hellman [00:44:10]:
    Yeah. So one of the things that my wife and I did, and, you know, I’m an educator, so, you know, my financial well being is pretty modest in that regard. But one of the things that I learned probably in the last five years that I wish I would have engaged in a lot earlier, is I met with a financial advisor. My wife and I did, and I strongly advise my children now to do the same thing even in their thirties, because legacy doesn’t mean six zeroes. A legacy has to do with a whole host of other aspects about our assets and to just be able to plan and to know that my children are less likely to have to contribute to my financial wellbeing is really what I wanted to ensure.

    Wes Moss [00:45:08]:
    So you’ve taken care of your own finances, of what you’re saying, so that you’re not relying on them at all.

    Chan Hellman [00:45:14]:
    Right? And hopefully, when my wife and I both pass, they’ll get some benefit out of that.

    Wes Moss [00:45:22]:
    Your book that you wrote, which was hope rising, how the science of hope can change your life. How can it, as we wrap up today, how can it change your life? Tell our listeners what you think deep down, this practice can change.

    Chan Hellman [00:45:40]:
    So sure, so real, really. First of all, the science of hope is clear. Hope is one of the strongest predictors of our capacity to thrive, of our well being. It matters. The second thing that I think I would really fall back on is it’s really simple. The framework of hope is simple and focused on the goals, the pathways and the willpower. So the framework of hope is something you can implement in your life today. The final thing I would say about that is to remember that hope is who we are.

    Chan Hellman [00:46:17]:
    What it means to be human is to have an expectation that the future can be better.

    Wes Moss [00:46:24]:
    How is your. We’re thinking about scoring and increasing our hopefulness and our practice of hope on a score level. How have you seen yours gone up? How have you seen others who are practicing this? Do you think of it on a percentage basis? What’s the scale you look at?

    Chan Hellman [00:46:46]:
    What I really focus on is because I’m a psychologist and because I really specialize in, in areas of trauma and adversity. I recently was part of an evaluation where we did a evaluation of 1500 adults in a three month time frame. So really kind of a pre assessment, do a little bit of the hope work, goals, pathways, willpower, and then three months later assess it again. And what we found is that 88% of people who scored lower in hope increased their hope scores. So it.

    Wes Moss [00:47:25]:
    Over what period of time again?

    Chan Hellman [00:47:27]:
    Three months.

    Wes Moss [00:47:27]:
    Three months.

    Chan Hellman [00:47:28]:
    Three months, yeah. And we probably could have shortened that time. In one of the workshops that I did, I measured hope before teaching people how to do hope and afterwards. And what I found was a statistically significant increase in hope in 1 hour. In 1 hour, you can change the trajectory of that future expectation a lot.

    Wes Moss [00:47:52]:
    Or a little on the scale. How much are you trying to turn?

    Chan Hellman [00:47:55]:
    Yeah, so we saw, I think it was about a three point for adults, on average. About a three point increase on how.

    Wes Moss [00:48:04]:
    Big of a scale?

    Chan Hellman [00:48:05]:
    Sure. On a low of eight to a high of 64. So we just moved the needle. But we have to remember that with youth, that two point increase will predict a letter grade change in the classroom. Right. So with adults we see pretty similar outcomes. It’s not about going from low to high, it’s about moving the needle, starting.

    Wes Moss [00:48:27]:
    The journey in the right direction. And we can do that by watching an Avenger movie and just. And then, and talking about it a little bit because I had not ever thought about the collective hope and how it’s such a group effort. I think it’s an amazing thing to think about and it’s an easy story to tell and it’s something that I’m gonna be pointing out to my kids next time if I still have an eight year old. So it’s not like I don’t have, I still have younger. Some of my kids are a little younger and they still, some of them still like to hang out and watch movies. Not all of them has your hope score gone up, or do you have to, like, work at it? Is it like the gym?

    Chan Hellman [00:49:08]:
    Yeah. So it’s like a gym. And hope is going to ebb and flow in our lives. So, you know, once I, once I nurture my hope score, you know, life happens and some days are better than others. What happens with hope, like, you know, going to a gym and really thinking about hope as a muscle is that when I, when I’m facing a lot of stress and adversity, like at work, then I know to stop and to think about what are my goals, what are the strategies that I’m going to get there. And it actually, statistically, when we nurture hope, we are better at coping with daily stress.

    Wes Moss [00:49:46]:
    Well, I think the practice of this, the science of hope, the practice of hope is a benefit to learn about for humanity. Everyone can get better at this.

    Chan Hellman [00:49:57]:
    That’s absolutely right.

    Wes Moss [00:49:59]:
    And it should create better life outcomes, period. Longevity, better at school, better job performance or less turnover. I mean, I like all those boxes. I’d like to check all of those boxes. Yes, absolutely, Chan.

    Chan Hellman [00:50:16]:

    Wes Moss [00:50:17]:
    Where can we find you and your work? What’s an easy way to find you without necessarily hopping on a plane, hoping it makes it to Tulsa, Oklahoma?

    Chan Hellman [00:50:27]:
    So we have a website. It’s real easy to find. It’s So that’s probably the easiest place to find. There’s certainly the TED talk if people want to review again. And it’s the science of hope is the TED talk.

    Wes Moss [00:50:45]:
    I loved your TED talk. That’s how we found it.

    Chan Hellman [00:50:47]:
    Oh, is that right?

    Wes Moss [00:50:47]:
    I don’t know where we found it, but I think I found that somewhere. Maybe you’re in an article somewhere. And I asked our team, I said, can you go find this guy? Can you go find Chan, see if he’s still alive? I want to go. I want to. Is he still with us? I don’t know. I had no idea how long ago that Ted talk was.

    Chan Hellman [00:51:07]:
    Yeah, 21. It was 2021.

    Wes Moss [00:51:10]:
    Well, this is awesome. And it’s. I don’t know, I feel a little better today than I did even before we started. And I was excited about talking with you today.

    Chan Hellman [00:51:20]:
    Thank you. Same here. Same here.

    Wes Moss [00:51:22]:
    All right, Chan, thanks for being with us.

    Chan Hellman [00:51:24]:
    Thank you. What an honor.

    Mallory Boggs [00:51:27]:
    Hey, y’all. This is Mallory with the retire sooner team. Please be sure to rate and subscribe to this podcast and share it with a friend. If you have any questions, you can find That’s You can also follow us on Instagram and YouTube. You’ll find us under the handle retiresunerpodcast. And now for our shows to disclosure this information is provided to you as a resource for informational purposes only and is not to be viewed as investment advice or recommendations.

    Mallory Boggs [00:51:55]:
    Investing involves risk, including the possible loss of principal. There is no guaranteed offer that investment return, yield or performance will be achieved. Stock prices fluctuate, sometimes rapidly and dramatically, due to factors affecting individual companies, particular industries or sectors, or general market conditions for stocks paying dividends. Dividends are not guaranteed and can increase, decrease or be eliminated without notice. Fixed income securities involve interest rate, credit inflation and reinvestment risks and possible loss of principal. As interest rates rise, the value of fixed income securities falls. Past performance is not indicative of future results. When considering any investment vehicle, this information is being presented without consideration of the investment objectives, risk tolerance, or financial circumstances of any specific investor and might not be suitable for all investors.

    Mallory Boggs [00:52:39]:
    Investment decisions should not be based solely on information contained here. This information is not intended to and should not form a primary basis for any investment decision that you may make. Always consult your own legal, tax or investment advisor before making any investment tax, estate or financial planning considerations or decisions. The information contained here is strictly an opinion and it is not known whether the strategies will be successful. The views and opinions expressed are for educational purposes only as of the date of production and may change without notice at any time based on numerous factors such as market and other conditions.

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