Where Does Wishful Thinking Come From

If you want something to happen, you can’t just wish for it.

Wishful thinking is no different than daydreaming. It’s great to use your imagination but it’s not realistic to think you will get what you want by wishing for it.

But why do we prefer to go with wishful thinking instead of pulling up our sleeves and doing the actual work?

It turns out there are two reasons. We either feel lazy or out of control.

Let’s start with laziness.

As human beings, we’re designed to be lazy. We used to live in a cave. That’s why it’s harder to go to work on Mondays and exercise in the mornings but it’s easier to eat and sleep.

So as lazy beings, there are only a few things that we’re willing to work for.

We can’t be putting the same amount of work on everything we want done in our lives. So we care about a few important things and for the rest, we choose wishful thinking.

The caveman would not leave the task of hunting for food to wishful thinking. Why?

Because he needs food to survive more than he needs a safe shelter or clothing. The point here is that we work hard and take risks for our priorities but for the rest we use our imagination.

But that’s for the caveman era. How about now? Most of us have our physiological and safety needs met. Our priorities are no longer hunting and building shelters.

Yet, we’re still lazy to take daily actions and go after what we want. Like a life with a purpose, a healthy body and mind or a strong relationship with our loved ones.

It’s not going to change on its own unless you decide to cause a change. Realize the importance of your current priorities and put the work needed.

Now let’s look at feeling out of control.

Let’s assume you’re not lazy and are aware of your other priorities beyond food and shelter. But what if you feel out of control when you decide to change something?

That’s the other time when we choose wishful thinking. You “try” to change something but it doesn’t go your way and you either give up or leave it all to chance.

Priorities matter because when we feel out of control about something which is not a priority, it’s easier to not even try.

But when we feel out of control about something we consider a priority, we do more than “trying”. We fight, we go to war for, we lose our minds, we sacrifice, we do whatever we can to get it.

The important thing to remember is knowing your real priorities. Because when you know what matters the most, you won’t feel lazy or out of control.

And if you live a life where you’ve got food and shelter, it’s not the time to settle down, it’s time to look beyond that and make new priorities.

There are people out there who are waiting and counting on you to make them a priority.

Take some risk, offer your help, put your sleeves up and don’t let wishful thinking take over your life. You’ve got once chance at it in this form and shape and I hope you make the best out of it.


I’ve taken on a 90-day writing challenge to get better at writing. Every business day I write about my life lessons including wins and fails.

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