Hope is essential for a thriving society, yet only half of Americans are hopeful for the nation’s future. To address this challenge, we must cultivate a shared patriotic spirit that rises above divisive politics.

The United States emphasizes individual liberty, which has helped it become a flourishing country where people are free to pursue their distinct talents and interests and reach their full potential. However, it is also essential for Americans to balance their individualism with a shared, positive national identity.

Humans are a tribal species, hard-wired to form and maintain group connections. While our group-oriented nature often gets a bad rap because it can sometimes fuel prejudice, discrimination and violence, mainly when other groups are perceived as a threat, it also helps build and maintain thriving organizations, communities and nations. Group affiliation nurtures social trust, unites individuals around shared objectives, and provides a sense of existential meaning from being a valuable member of a family, organization or cultural group that outlasts a lifespan.

Thus, when approaching societal problems and goals, fostering a shared national identity — a patriotic spirit that unites us is essential.

The latest research from the Archbridge Institute’s Human Flourishing Lab underscores a particularly positive feature of patriotism: Its relationship with hope for the nation’s future.

Hope is a crucial driver of individual and societal flourishing. Hopeful individuals are optimistic about the future and strongly believe in their ability to improve their lives. This mindset makes them more resilient when confronted with challenges and more adaptable in their strategies for overcoming obstacles and achieving objectives. Consequently, hopeful individuals tend to excel in life, whether pursuing educational, professional or athletic endeavors.

The benefits of a hopeful attitude extend beyond personal achievements. Hopeful individuals are motivated to contribute positively to their families, communities and society, and they are more tolerant of those they disagree with — a quality that is essential for the success of a free and diverse society. Hope also supports creativity and innovative problem-solving, which contributes to the entrepreneurship and dynamism that has made America a land of opportunity.

So, what does patriotism have to do with hope? When people hold a positive view of their group, they are more likely to maintain a hopeful outlook on life. A positive national group identity can thus encourage hopeful attitudes about the country’s future.

Indeed, our nationally representative survey of 2,000 American adults found that national pride — an indicator of a positive national group identity — is a strong predictor of national hope. Overall, just over half (56 percent) of Americans are hopeful for the country’s future. However, a striking disparity emerged when considering the role of patriotism: 64 percent of respondents who said they are proud to be American indicated that they are hopeful for the nation’s future, compared to just 27 percent of those who said they are not proud to be American.

Critically, this pattern was observed for Americans of all ages and political affiliations. Whether young or old, liberal or conservative, patriotism is strongly associated with hope for the future.

The good news is that 81 percent of Americans are proud to be American. The challenge, however, is a large patriotism gap between younger generations of liberals, conservatives and moderates. While more than 90 percent of conservatives, moderates and liberals age 60 and above are proud to be American, younger age groups show a significant patriotism gap, with liberals expressing far less pride in their country than their conservative or moderate counterparts. Only 47 percent of liberals under the age of 30 are proud to be American, compared to 75 percent of young conservatives.

The widening patriotism gap among younger generations, especially between liberals and conservatives, poses a significant obstacle to addressing issues that affect the nation’s psychological, social and economic well-being. Young American adults would be wise to learn from their elders that a love of country can transcend political differences.

Encouragingly, surveys suggest that Americans are growing tired of divisive politics. This allows leaders across society to recognize the importance of promoting a unifying and forward-looking national narrative that inspires hope, fosters understanding across differences, and encourages citizens to collaborate toward a better future while upholding a commitment to individual liberty.

By embracing personal freedom and national belonging, we can promote individual and societal flourishing and pave the way for a brighter future for all.