Wishful thinking is defined as:
: an attitude or belief that something you want to happen will happen even though it is not likely or possible
You could also call these fantasies, delusions, magical thinking, pipe dreams. Nonbelievers would also call prayers a form of wishful thinking.
A lot of songs are written about making wishes, some of which are more likely than others:
- Wishing you were somehow here again (Phantom) – I wish my dad were back from the dead
- A dream is a wish your heart makes (Disney’s Cinderella) – if you can dream it, you can have it
- When you wish upon a star (Disney’s Pinocchio) – all you have to do is really be sincere and you’ll get it!
- I wish (aka Prologue, Into the Woods) – in this case, the wishes seem unlikely but most everyone gets them – but should they?
There is a phrase, “Be careful what you wish for – you might get it!” The idea behind this is that you might find out that it’s really not what you want or not all that it’s cracked up to be, or that it leads to more headaches than it’s worth. That’s what Tzeitel is trying to tell her sisters in Matchmaker (one of the songs in our upcoming studio showcase!). And it’s definitely the case for all the wishers in Into the Woods – Cinderella gets her Prince (meh); The Baker and his Wife get their child but parenthood is hard; The Witch gets beauty but loses her powers; Rapunzel gains her freedom but loses her mind (and, ultimately, her life).
Seth Godin has another interpretation of that phrase:
Wishes are wonderful. But they are seeds for action. You have to take steps to implement them. And if your wish involves a successful career in the performing arts (whether that’s being a star or working regularly as a chorister, in small roles with big companies or big roles with small companies – i.e., my performing career), there are steps you need to take. Steps that involve study, and spending money, and giving up things because you have a gig, or rehearsal.
And there’s always the possibility that, no matter how much work you put into making your wish come true – it won’t.
That’s when this can happen.:
There are no genies or fairy godmothers to make our wishes come true, and no matter how many pennies we throw in a wishing well, making your wishes come true requires hard work on your part. And sacrifice. And change.
Are you willing to put in the work and effect the change that you need to fulfill your dreams? And if you do, are you willing to accept the outcome either way? And if that outcome turns out to be not what you want – whether you reach the goal or not – what will be your next step? (And don’t say “wishful drinking” – that doesn’t solve anything.)