Makeawish is an american association that since 1980 tries to “grant the wish of every child diagnosed with a life-threatening medical condition”. Others have appeared elsewhere. Some children would like to become a policeman, a dolphin monitor or an archaeologist. Others would like to meet someone famous, athletes like Messi, singers like Justin Bieber, actors or TV celebrities. Others would like to experience something , travel to some place, walk on snow, board a helicopter. Some would like to have something, a pet, a piano. There are wishes that move us because they are dreams, but it is a bit sad when we see that the most cherished wish a child can imagine is just what is most popular in TV or social media. Perhaps it cannot be otherwise and no one can tell whether the scope of the imagination would have been much wider when it was grounded on books and novels rather than on TV or internet.
If there are no life-threatening diseases and you are an adult, it will be up to you to fulfill your wishes. Probably, when wishes and dreams have to become concrete goals, they will have to be adjusted. What do adults want to achieve? Facebook has compiled its user’s new year’s resolutions. They are grouped in 7 categories:
- 30% Mental. 53% want to be a better person / be nicer 30% want to live life to the fullest 14% want to stay positive / don’t stress.
- 20% Physical. 37% want to get fit / exercise more 22% want to lose weight 20% want to eat better / cook more.
- 19% Other. 59% are not making a resolution 26% shared an inspirational quote about resolutions 10% already broke their resolution.
- 15% relationships. 47% want to be closer to family 35% want to spend more time with friends 18% want to fall in love / get married.
- 10% timemanagement. 60% want to clean more / be more organized 25% want to practice old skills or hobbies or learn new ones 9% want to spend less time online.
- 2% professional. 45% want to get a job / keep a job 31% want to do well at school / graduate / go to college 25% want to read more books.
- 1% financial
Basically it’s about feeling better both physically and mentally. The New Year’s resolution approach does not favor the expression of dreams, like the experiences children wanted to have, the things that make us feel alive. We could find some of this on the website 43things which closed early 2015. Users shared their projects and dreams. From the last report available I’ve collected the top 25 and tried to group them in 5 categories (in brackets how many people wanted to achieve this goal) :
1 Travel the world. Take a Road Trip. See the Northern Lights. (108233)
9 Kiss in the Rain. Go Skydiving. Swim with the Dolphins. (50781)
2 Get a Job. Get out of Debt. Save Money. Buy a House. (74303)
7 Stop Procrastinating. Get Organized. Finish what I Start. (53720)
13 Figure out what I want to do with my life. (28461)
3 Learn a Second Language. Spanish, French, Japanese. (65764)
15 Design and Get a Tattoo. (35130)
16 Learn to Play Guitar or Piano. Write a Song. (32154)
11 Write a Book. (41939)
14 Read More. Go to College. Never stop Learning (35445)
18 Take more Pictures. (15361)
19 Learn to Drive. (16431)
20 Learn to Sew. (12138)
21 Learn to Cook. (9952)
23 Learn to Surf. (8104)
25 Learn to Dance. (7131)
Health & wellness
4 Lose Weight. (60506)
8 Get in Shape. Run a Marathon. Practice Yoga. (51808)
10 Drink Water. Eat Healthy. Worry Less. Sleep More. (45066)
22 Quit Smoking. (9238)
24 Stop Biting my Nails (7309)
Relationships, self realization
5 Fall in Love. Get Married. Have a Baby. (54576)
6 Be Happy. Be Confident. Love Myself. (53864)
12 Make New Friends. Be a Better Friend. (39357)
17 Make a Difference. Volunteer. (16592)
More examples can be found, for instance in twitter. Everybody would like to feel better and at peace inside, and look more attractive outside.
What we dream, want, intend and, eventually, undertake is, to some extent, what determines –self-determines- our life. This is human causality. The point where we are now is the result, partly, of the choices we made in the past. And those choices were the product of dreams and desires we projected into the future. The imagined future shaped the past.
Often, the point in the future where we end, is not the one we intended. And when it is, it can happen that it’s not what we expected. Be careful what you wish for, it might come true! Some mid-life crisis are related to this. Literature has examples about wishes gone wrong, from King Midas to Perrault’s Three wishes tale.
Depending on what we wish for we will get disappointments and frustration, because we cannot achieve what we want or because, even if we do, we are not satisfied. We will never be slim and attractive enough, we will never have enough money, we will never be praised enough for our professional, artistic or sports achievements. A good part of the different moral attitudes available aims at educating how we desire, from Epicurus ataraxia to the buddhist training to stop craving things.
What should we wish for? What makes us feel alive?