The Good Life: Making a Wish Trains Us to Think Positively

The Good Life: A Year of Thoughtful Seasons by Sarah Mattison Buhl

I Still Wish

This month, I will wish on my birthday candles like I always do every year. But this year I finally realize I am not the only one wishing!

I still make wishes. June is my birthday month, and on the 19th I will make a cake with my kids, light the candles, blow them out and make a silent wish. Why? Because although I will be 45 this month, I still lean toward optimism and occasionally towards magical thinking. I have never, and will never squander a wish because in a time when we are on the precipice of the 6th Mass Extinction, I need to be a believer.

I’ve been thinking a lot about wishes, and did a little research. A few years ago new age spiritualists and self-help gurus were tripping over themselves to promote an old idea made new again in a book called The Secret. The idea is that like attracts like, meaning if you think negative thoughts, those negative things will happen to you. If you think positively, your thoughts will become reality. This is also known as the Law of Attraction. Supporters of the Law suggest that life has a catalog, and that you can order exactly what you want, and it will be provided for you. So for example, my friend Jen has always admired a stately brick Colonial home in town. She should “ask” the Universe for it, then believe it can be hers- maybe even take a tour and plan where her furniture will go. The best part is that she doesn’t have to figure out how to make it happen. The Universe takes care of that for her. The house is Jen’s for the asking. She will be really happy when I tell her. But what if she isn’t the only one wishing? What if someone else likes that house (like the people who live there), and they wish to stay FOREVER? What if her husband really likes their current house and hopes to stay there with her until they can’t get to the second floor without a Stair Chair?

I recently accepted a long-term substitute teaching position working one-on-one with a student. I never knew much about the lives of educational support people, but I can say now that I have never before met such dedicated, thoughtful people in my life. It turns out there are a lot of them, and they work with incredibly challenging students with heartbreaking backgrounds every day, all year long. My position was meant to be short term, and given the nature of the work I wasn’t sure I could do more. When my two weeks were almost done, I was asked to stay on through the end of the year. I was stunned. This was not what I planned. I was ready to move on.

When I greeted my student at his van that morning, I told him I would be staying at the school for the rest of the year. His face went slack, then he balled his hand in a tight fist, pumped his elbow backward hard and hissed “Yessssssssssssss!” not to me, but to the Universe. You see, I wasn’t the only person making a wish that day, but like Jagger famously sang, “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometime, you just might find, you get what you need.”

This month, I will wish on my birthday candles like I always do every year. But this year I finally realize I am not the only one wishing.


Sarah Mattison Buhl

As a mother of three, Sarah appreciates the extraordinary beauty of the ordinary. She makes her home with her family in Northampton, MA.

[Photo credit: (cc) Brimstone]

One Comment on “The Good Life: Making a Wish Trains Us to Think Positively

  1. Words escape me. Sarah’s prose at times leaves me breathless and wanting it to go on and on! I could spend the day reading what she writes – it is thought-provoking, emotionally charged and beautifully worded. Keep it up. I always look forward to reading her articles!

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