Wishful Thinking

by Stephen Mills on April 23, 2010


“Proper assessment of reality can be as crucial to life as oxygen.  To try and make it through this world without a reasonable understanding of reality is like stumbling around in a dark room laden with land mines.” – Robert Ringer

If you are waiting for circumstances to change for the better, you are engaging in wishful thinking.  Circumstances are undoubtedly going to change in some way, but you can’t really predict how they are going to change.  If you think you can, you are simply fooling yourself.  They might get worse.

Examples of Wishful Thinking

The following are common examples of people basing their actions on wishful thinking.  Some of these things might actually happen, but often they do not.  The point is you do not know.  The future is not now.  Learning to deal with what is will actually give you far more control over your future than waiting for “things to turn around”.

  • Your partner is going to change from who they are to who you want them to be.
  • The economy is about to turn around.  Even though in other times and other places it has been in the toilet for 10 or 15 years, that’s not going to happen this time.
  • Your home will appreciate in value.
  • The stock market will go up.
  • Your dream job is right around the corner.
  • Your kids are going to do what you wish they would do.
  • Doctors generally improve your health.
  • Government can make the world a better place.
  • Other people can and should make their decisions in a way that you think is fair.
  • Stuff makes you happy.
  • The alleged coming economic upturn is going to save your business or your job.

You can find freedom in an unfree world or you can continue to try and change everyone else.  You can waste years nagging your partner to be different than they are and make both of you miserable, or you can accept what is and move on.  You can prosper in a bad economy or you can wait for a good economy (and still not prosper).  You can find happiness without stuff or you can try to buy your way to nirvana.  You can bitch about what other people do or you can control what you do.

Positive Thinking vs. Wishful Thinking

I’m not saying you shouldn’t think positively because you should.  But there is a difference between positive thinking and wishful thinking.  Real positive thinking implies action; it’s proactive.  Wishful thinking is reactive.  Positive thinking is figuring out a way to prosper in bad times – and believing you can.  Wishful thinking is waiting for the good times to arrive and save you from your circumstances.

What do YOU think?  Leave a comment and join the conversation.


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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Kenji Crosland April 23, 2010 at 3:40 pm

Nice post Stephen,

Real positive thinking only starts when we have a solid grasp of our own reality, especially the negative aspects of it. I’ve certainly learned the hard way that all wishful thinking does is give us excuses to keep from taking real action.


Stephen Mills April 24, 2010 at 9:00 am

Hi Kenji. Yes, wishful thinking provides a ready made excuse to avoid dealing with reality. Thanks for you comment.


Russ Hamel April 23, 2010 at 6:02 pm

Wishful thinking is like blowing your money, even if it’s ONLY a dollar or two every week pinning your hopes on lottery tickets. I know, “What IF?”

What if you WAKE UP?

Wishful thinking is hoping you have money left at the end of the month WHILE you insist on buying your daily coffee, snacks, smokes, and newspapers.

Positive thinking is knowing that extra $50 – $500 or MORE WILL make a pleasant difference come Christmas time. No Fantasy-Fairy Foo-Foo nonsense here… just real honest-to-goodness results from REAL thinking!
.-= Russ Hamel´s last blog ..Can You Eat This Large Party-size Pizza All In One Bite? =-.


Stephen Mills April 24, 2010 at 9:05 am

Hi Russ! I like that way you put that – REAL thinking. Nice! Thanks for commenting 🙂


Audrey April 23, 2010 at 9:12 pm

I couldn’t agree more! Thank you for pointing out the difference. Daydreaming and wishing won’t get you anywhere, but positive thinking will give you hope for the future and help you create goals to make your plans a reality. There is a great book out on this called, “The Law of Attraction,” in which the authors guide you through the true meaning of prosperity in all realms of life. Very empowering. You should check it out!


Stephen Mills April 24, 2010 at 9:15 am

Hello Audrey! Thanks for your comment and for the link. Have a great weekend 🙂


Richard | RichardShelmerdine.com April 24, 2010 at 1:44 am

Make change come from you and the inside and you will find that the external circumstances shift to accommodate you anyway.
.-= Richard | RichardShelmerdine.com´s last blog ..Book Reading Simplified =-.


Stephen Mills April 24, 2010 at 9:25 am

Hi Richard, thanks for stopping in to comment. I read a lot of books, many of them at the same time so I’m going to be sure and check out your link.


Mark Harrison April 24, 2010 at 10:38 am

There is no end to the stories we tell ourselves, the fantasies we create, to escape from reality. My article, 6 Myths that stand in your way, on Pick the Brain, drew alot of negative reaction – it is an invitation to step outside some of our fondest fantasies.


Russ Hamel April 24, 2010 at 4:36 pm

Hey Mark

Went over to check out your post. I’ll repeat what I said there, “Refreshing”. Og Mandino, one of the best known writers of personal development and positive thinking, absolutely abhors ‘Fantasy Fairy’ thinking. I’m sure he would back up your post.

Unfortunately, too many personal development blogs are spewing this Fantasy Fairy crap. Even sadder is that most of the commenters seem to be tripping over themselves to kiss the author’s butt (probably hoping to win his favor so he’ll send them a couple of bucks.)

OK, a bit harsh. But Dude, you took an unfair pounding on your post. I think more PD blogs would do well to have articles like “6 Myths…” I’m glad I read it.

All the best from Toronto,
.-= Russ Hamel´s last blog ..Can You Eat This Large Party-size Pizza All In One Bite? =-.


Stephen Mills April 27, 2010 at 7:38 pm

Hey Russ – “Fantasy Fairy”- I love it!


Stephen Mills April 27, 2010 at 7:40 pm

Hi Mark, that’s a great way to put it. Thank you for your contribution here.


Tracy Todd April 25, 2010 at 6:03 am

One of the lessons I learned in my journey to become a more positive thinker was you can never change anybody. The only time a woman succeeds in changing a man is when he is a baby. 😉

A great post, as usual. Thank you!
.-= Tracy Todd´s last blog ..Turning-point… “Why Walk When You Can Soar”. =-.


Stephen Mills April 27, 2010 at 7:34 pm

Hello Tracy. I love that quote about changing a man. It’s one of my favorites. Thanks for you comments 🙂


Grampa Ken for social change April 25, 2010 at 9:36 am

The future really is now Stephen. In hoping to be happy about something in the future, instead of being happy right now, we are missing life. So much time can be wasted waiting for that new purchase, a better job, better health. Expecting your partner is going to change might happen a little bit, but we often attach too much importance to it. Most difficulties in a relationship can be put to the back by the simple act of acceptance and the concerns begin to fade away. We gotta enjoy today because it is not coming back. Cheers!
.-= Grampa Ken for social change´s last blog ..Selling Bad Health to Kids =-.


Stephen Mills April 27, 2010 at 7:36 pm

Hi Grandpa Ken. I love this “We gotta enjoy today because it is not coming back.” Thanks!


B @ logos coaching April 25, 2010 at 8:12 pm

To me wishful thinking is done by those who aren’t willing to take responsibility for the way their life is and positive thinking is done by those who know it’s all up to them.
.-= B @ logos coaching´s last blog ..Life in the oneness is never lonely =-.


Stephen Mills April 27, 2010 at 7:37 pm

Hi B. That’s a great way to put it – thank you for commenting!


Nacke October 7, 2014 at 2:33 am

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