hope, faith, optimism, heal, healing, empowerment, Karyn Shanks, Karyn Shanks MD

“Despair is Hubris”

Not my words. These are the words of Stephen Cobert, host of The Late Show and creator of the iconic Stephen Cobert Show.

He was asked the question, “what do you do to stay hopeful?”

His reply was:

       Despair is just hubris.

       Because you think you know what’s going to happen.

       As Gandalf says, “Not even the wise know all ends.”

I haven’t been able to get these words out of my head—his reply was so freaking insightful…. and so hope inspiring.

It takes me back to what we know about the human brain, wired for survival, worrying about what may happen, glomming onto stories about worst-case scenarios, and assuming catastrophe.

We all do it. We all feel despair. I do. It’s human.

But it’s just as human to be smart about what we think. To take control of the stories we conjure about a future that does not yet exist.

His words mean we have the power and responsibility—to ourselves, to our world—to reign in our fears. To claim the power of truth about what we know and don’t know.

To use our beautiful minds to resist disempowering assumptions about what’s to come.

Why not choose hope? Why not assume a better thing? A better future? And let that energize our actions.

Because while “not even the wise know all ends,” the wise can embrace the truth of an uncertain future and choose hope even in the face of so much suffering.


p.s. From my Archives:

The Paradox of Hope and Honesty. 2018.

My ebook on storytelling and harnessing the power of neuroplasticity:

Big Energy: How We Bravely Reclaim Our Health, Our Potential, Our Lives—It’s All In Our Stories. 2018.

Karyn Shanks MD


Karyn Shanks, MD, is a physician who lives and practices in Iowa City. Her work is inspired by the revolutionary science of Functional Medicine, body-mind wisdom, and the transformational journeys of thousands of clients over her twenty-eight year career. She believes that the bones of healing are in what we do for ourselves.

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