To wish or not to wish… and what in the world to wish for?

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Hi friends!

Welcome back to another What if Wednesday!

Let’s talk about wishes!

We’ve all heard the childhood tales about getting to make a wish (or three). Remember King Midas and his wish for everything he touched to turn to gold? And of course who could forget Aladdin, where he wishes that the genie make him a prince?

Have you ever thought about what you would wish for?

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Here’s the setup:

  1. You have been granted one wish.
  2. You don’t have to use your wish if you don’t want to…but bear in mind that there are consequences either way.
  3. If you use your wish:
    • It must be used within the next five minutes.
    • You will instantly age by 20 years. In other words, if you use your wish, you will immediately be 20 years older than your current age.
  4. If you do NOT use your wish within five minutes:
    • You will stay your current age…however, the loved one closest to you will instantly age by 20 years.
  5. Rules:
    • You may not wish for more wishes.
    • You may not wish for more time to decide. Five minutes is all you get.
    • You may not change or remove any of these caveats or consequences.

It seems that this scenario implicitly supposes that every alternative comes at a price. Having a wish – even with these parameters – is quite an immense opportunity. But the cost of using the wish is essentially the loss of 20 years of life. Either years lost from my own life or lost from the life of my closest loved one (Joel).

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In thinking it through, I think it would make most sense for me to use the wish. At least then the wish could be used for something good. Sure, I could refuse to use it, but then not only would Joel lose 20 years of time, we also wouldn’t have anything to “show” for paying that price. Meaning he would suffer the cost for nothing.

So it’s decided then. I would use the wish.

Yes, this means I would instantly be in my 50’s.

You know what, it would make me incredibly sad to miss out on the opportunity to experience the rest of my 30’s or any of my 40’s. There is much I want to do in those years…like have babies, watch them grow into amazing adults, and hit some key career milestones.

It’s true, instantly being 20 years older means a loss of those 20 years… but you know something? It doesn’t mean I couldn’t still strive for my goals, right? For example, assuming menopause was an issue, we could build a family through surrogacy or adoption. And I’d still have plenty of years with which to work towards career goals.

So the next question becomes: what on earth would I wish for?

One way around the “20 years lossed” caveat is to wish for immortality. I would essentially be trading 20 years for an infinite number of years. But is this really what I would want? Do I want to live forever? Truthfully, I don’t think so. I imagine that forever would be quite lonely as you’d continuously outlive everyone and everything else in the world.

So… if not immortality, what would I wish for?

When I was a kid, I used to think that if I had a wish, I would wish for a million dollars. To a child, this seems like an unfathomably huge amount of money. But anyone with student loans, medical bills, a mortgage, a car note, credit card, monthly bills, and/or any combination thereof can tell you that one million dollars wouldn’t go quite as far as my childhood self naively thought.

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What about a billion dollars? A trillion?

I think ultimately I’d have to wonder what would be the true cost of those 20 years I had to give up in order to have the wish. I don’t think I’d be able to put a number on that. Plus, even if I were to wish for a gazillion dollars, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that money does NOT in fact guarantee happiness, and may actually lead to boredom and dissatisfaction.

There are other meaningful ways to use something as precious as a wish. So as nice as it would be to pocket that million (or billion), I can honestly tell you that I probably would not use my wish to acquire personal wealth.

What could be more impactful than a billion dollars? Hmm.

Perhaps I could change some past event to improve how history played out. There are no caveats around changing historical events. Perhaps there is a pivotal event that, if prevented, would alter the course of history. The book “11/22/63” by Stephen King is based on the premise that the John F. Kennedy assassination is one such pivotal event. Perhaps I could use my wish to prevent Martin Luther King Jr from being assassinated, or to prevent Hitler from being born.

Or maybe I could use my wish to correct some systemic wrong in the world. For example, I could wish to remove all traces of prejudice. There are no caveats related to this kind of global wish, so I assume this would be fair game. What would it be like to live in a world with no racism, sexism, classism, ageism, or any other type of discrimination? Friends, with my wish, we could find out. I wonder what it would be like if we lived in a world where the only trace of discrimination was in the history books.

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Another option would be to use my wish to bestow everyone in the world with a strong sense of compassionate generosity. Perhaps this would be the best way to use my wish. I would gladly give up those 20 years if it meant that every single person on the earth (and everyone yet to be born) would live with a healthy combination of sincere compassion and true generosity.

If we were all truly generous, maybe there would be more charitable giving, more helping each other, less poverty, less hunger, less human suffering…. If we all were more compassionate, maybe we would be slower to judge each other, slower to jump to conclusions, more willing to give benefit of doubt, more accepting of each others’ differences and flaws. Maybe. Just maybe.

Check out my other “what if” posts!

Would you make your wish? If so, what would you wish for? 

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97 thoughts on “To wish or not to wish… and what in the world to wish for?

  1. Your what if posts always make me think and I never know what my answer would be ha. I think I would wish that the person closest to me would also age 20 years so there wouldn’t be a huge gap. But that’s selfish so maybe I would wish for something else. Ah so tough!

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    1. That’s an interesting wish – I hadn’t considered it, but it would certainly even things out haha! Thanks for taking the time to read, Maureen! Hope you have a fantastic day!

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    1. I know what you mean, I’ve got a few I’d be tempted to wish as well! I appreciate your taking the time to stop by and read, I hope you have a wonderful day!

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  2. Oh gosh, this is a difficult question to answer. I always do the “If I win the lottery, I would do _____ ” with my husband. And of course, he likes to burst my bubble by saying “You don’t even buy lottery tickets”. Hahaha. Without it sounding corny, all I really want to wish for is a better world for my daughter to grow-up in.

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    1. That is such a lovely wish, and I’m sure your daughter would appreciate it very much. I would love a better world for my future generations too. Thanks for stopping by Dean, I hope you have an amazing day!

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    2. Reading this comment was like I had written it myself!! I was ‘dreaming’ the other day to my husband – and he too said ‘Um, you don’t even BUY a lotto ticket!’. Great post Dawn – I love the sound of your What If series, will need to go and check it out!

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  3. Iโ€™d be in my 40s. Iโ€™m cool with that because my first cousins and coolest friends are in their 30s and 40s. Finally I could stop being a baby. Iโ€™d wish to be the richest persona on the planet until I died. That way I could pay off any debt my family and friends have. Donate to grassroots organisations that are really the change makers in the world, invest in some start ups, and spend my time traveling as much as Iโ€™d like

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    1. That is super generous of you! It would be awesome to be able to donate and make major changes in that way. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Aitza, I appreciate your taking the time to stop by. I hope you have an amazing day!

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  4. Oh gosh I don’t know if I would or wouldn’t it would make me into my 50s but then I wouldn’t want to age the person I love the most by 50 years either. It’s like an impossible situation to even think about and I wouldn’t even know where to start on what to wish for.

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    1. I know what you mean Sarah, it’s an interesting conundrum! Thanks for taking the time to stop by and read! I hope you have a wonderful day!

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  5. This is really difficult to decide, both are tempting. Thinking deeply, I would love to take a wish, aging is a natural process and
    i would love to age with my friends and family with a wish that would help in living that life.

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    1. Sounds good to me! Thanks for taking the time to stop by, I appreciate your reading and responding, and i hope you have an amazing day!

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  6. After your reasoning of the choose or not to choose the wish I feel I have too. Gees that make’s me 60. I have kids so I had that experience but I missed their graduation and marriage and hmm the early years of grandkids. I don’t know what I would wish for. Is endless happiness or contentment a possibility?

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    1. Sure, I don’t see why not! I think endless happiness and contentment sounds kind of amazing! As someone who sometimes deals with anxiety, I can definitely say that like the sound of that! Thanks for stopping by, Rose, I hope your day is amazing!

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    1. Thank you Sam, it was such a fun thought experiment! I would use my wish to! Thanks for stopping by, I appreciate it! I hope you have a lovely evening!

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    1. That sounds very patriotic of you! I’m glad you like these What If posts! I enjoy writing them. Thanks for stopping by! Enjoy your day!

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  7. Just thinking about this gives me anxiety ha ha. I want to cry thinking about loosing 20 years of my life. But I also couldn’t wish that upon anyone else either. I can’t think of anything worth loosing that much time for.

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  8. What an interesting and thought provoking post! I’m not sure what I’d wish for. I think of tons of things when I thi k if I won the lottery, but it’s just stuff!

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    1. I know what you mean, there’s a lot I would do if I won the lottery. But there’s so much that money can’t buy! I guess that’s why a wish would be amazing. Thank you for stopping by, Lynn, I hope you have a wonderful day!

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  9. You always come up with the most clever questions for your what if posts! That’s such a dilemma. I would never let anyone else take the aging, but I’d hate to have to take it myself either — even if I got a wish!

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    1. It’s a tough one, I agree! 20 years is a lot of time to give up, and would be a bitter pill to swallow. Thanks for taking the time to stop by and read, I hope you have an amazing day!

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    1. i’m glad you found this thought-provoking, it was a fun thought experiment to think through! thanks for stopping by, Wynne, i hope you have an amazing day!

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  10. Oh man this is such a hard thing to think about. I am not sure if I would wish for wealth. It is so easy to say that I would do something hypothetically. I would totally make sure to protect myself from those that just pop out of the wood work though if that’s what I wished for.

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    1. that’s probably a good idea! thanks for making the time to stop by and read, I appreciate it! i hope you have a lovely day ๐Ÿ™‚

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    1. This is so true! health is one of those things so many people take for granted until they don’t have it anymore. Thanks for stopping by, Christia, I hope you have a lovely day!

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  11. A very creative post ! I agree that money does not neccasirly give you happiness. I think I would wish to be healthy ! Even if I was 20 years older โ˜บ๏ธ

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  12. I really loved the rules of 20 years for the wishes part. I think Iโ€™d take the wish too. But, I canโ€™t quite think of the what ifs as much as you can, or else I completely go into a thought spiral!

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    1. I know what you mean Aishwarya, it’s one of those thought experiments that goes down all kinds of rabbit trails. Thanks for stopping by, I hope you have an amazing day!

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  13. This is great! Your making me think which is always good to just sit and think about things. Sometimes I get so busy I don’t make time. I haven’t decided what I would do but I’ll let you know ๐Ÿ™‚ really cool idea!

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    1. Thanks Sarah! I really appreciate your taking the time to stop by and participate in this little thought experiment! I hope you have a lovely day!

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  14. It seems like a lose situation. The time we have here on life to learn and grow is what makes it so great. To lose 20 years of your life would be hard…everyone else would stay the same age and be in different parts of their lives than yours so would they remain in your life with the same close relationships? I wouldn’t be able to make someone else 20 yrs older (morally) So I guess I’d be making a wish. I guess I’d wish for true happiness (all that includes in happiness like: being surrounded by good people, good health, a home for me and the family, AND now it wouldn’t be so bad to marry Michael Keaton (we’d be the same age)lol

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    1. Hahaha! I guess if you’re going to lose 20 years, Michael Keaton wouldn’t be a terrible compromise! That made me giggle! ๐Ÿ˜‚ thanks for the laugh! I hope your day is amazing Eloise!

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  15. This is a very interesting process of thought. I don’t think I would actually take the wish because I don’t want to lose my youth by I don’t want my dear one to lose his either. And while most of our wishes are achievable through hard work, i think this test is meant to make you think of the consequences of cutting corners.

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    1. This might very well be the case! Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to read, Joanna. I appreciate your participating in this thought experiment! I hope you have a wonderful day.

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  16. I just might use the wish version 2, because my hubby is actually 13 years YOUNGER than I am – so he would end up only 7 years OLDER and be able to retire! So then the wish would be for just enough money to be debt-free and live comfortably the rest of our lives – pay off all the bills, credit cards, student loans, mortgage on the existing house, and buy a new one in the state where most of my grandchildren live, and retire there – oh, and there would have to be enough money in that “live comfortably” clause to also run an animal rescue for mainly abandoned / neglected cats and dogs!

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    1. I love that you would take care of all the debts as well as start an animal rescue with your wish! Such a worthwhile cause! Thanks for stopping by, I appreciate that you take the time to read. I hope you have an amazing day!

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  17. I read this story called “The Monkey’s Paw” with my students every year about the same topic. The premise is that a man obtains a monkey’s paw that comes with three wishes, but is warned by the previous owner not to use it. It’s a great talking point for the consequences that may arise if we don’t think things through.

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    1. That sounds like a cool story to read with kids! I’ll have to check it out – sounds like there are a few similarities there! Thanks for taking the time to stop by and read, I hope you have a lovely day Melanie!

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    1. That brings up a really interesting follow up question… how many good people are in the world haha! Thanks for raising another thought provoking question, I love the “what ifs” for this reason! I hope you have an amazing weekend!

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  18. I probably would never make the wish because deciding what to wish for is, well, tough! Especially if there is only one. Can I have 2? ๐Ÿ™‚

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    1. Haha, it would be pretty tough to figure out what to wish for, I definitely agree! Thanks for taking the time to stop by April, I hope you have an amazing weekend!

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  19. I totally do not know just one thing that I would wish for. I know that I would love to have more time in the day so that I can do as much with my kids as I want and get all of my work done.

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    1. I can totally understand that! Tacks for stopping by and participating in this thought experiment! I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

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    1. That’s an interesting idea! I wouldn’t mind a second pass at my 20’s either! Thanks for stopping by, Janelle, I hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend!

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  20. Love this idea on your blog. All possibilities that everyone can do. If everyone will realize how important these “what if’s” and how it will benefit us, then yeah, maybe we will have a better place to grow and to live…maybe, maybe.

    -Gerome of G&D Blog
    http://www.gdblog.net

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    1. Thank you Gerome! That’s so lovely of you. I appreciate your taking the time to stop by and read. I hope you have a wonderful day!

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  21. This is such a great topic. I am willing to give up 20 years if every good person in this world could live forever as we need more good people in this world to make it a better place. And yes…I would definitely age gracefully ๐Ÿ™‚

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    1. I love that! We definitely do need more good in this world. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to read! I hope you have a lovely day!

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  22. How interesting! I definitely do not have any idea what I would wish for. I wouldn’t want to lose those 20 years for myself or my closest loved one. I love what you would have done with it though. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Aw, this is great! I miss my overseas family and would love to see them more often too. Thanks for stopping by, Ifeoluwa! I hope you have a wonderful day!

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  23. Hmm I really dont know what I would wish for. It honestly probably would be a ton of money at least that way I would have my childrens future not having to worry financially. I could pay for their schooling, houses, set up a trust fund, etc. I would only be 40 years old so not really to old.

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