Through speaking and writing, Sean Doyle, JD, MAPP '07, explores the poetry and science of well-being. Whether it's the work place, parenting, community, home, or hardship, Sean invites us to inject more hope, affection, and meaning into the world. Check out his chapbook, On Being Human. Another book is underway. Watch its progress and let publishers know you're interested via the book page on his website. Full bio. Sean's articles are here.
What is Your Wish?
With the New Year upon us, I am going to break with the standard protocol of this site and ask you a question. If you had one wish for the world, your family or yourself, what would it be?
Go ahead and pause for a moment and think how you would answer.
Stop for a minute and ask yourself – If you had one wish for the world, your family or yourself, what would it be?
Now, write it down.
Wishes touch on so many aspects of positive psychology. They play a role in appreciative inquiry, hope, resilience, savoring, purpose and goal setting just to name a few. That is because wishes tell us something about what it means to be human. They frame for us our vision of what is important – both those things that are “big I” Important that give us meaning and purpose, as well as the little pleasures and comforts that ease and aide us in our enjoyment of life. Wishes help us define a vision of what is possible and show us what life could be.
While they are not the same thing as hope, our wishes have a hand in the motivation, passion and clear goals that make our hopes possible. When times are hard, sometimes wishes offer the comfort we need.
Of course, we are not always good at guessing what we want, or what will make us happy. As a result, sometimes we wish for the “wrong” things. But this too says something about who we are, and what it means to be human as we go about stammering and stumbling through life. Ultimately our wishes connect us to one another. No matter where you are from, or where you are going, when we hear the wishes of others, so often we realize that we are not alone in our dreams.
When documentary artist Liisa Ogburn asked 63 first graders this question, they told us they wanted people to brave all the time. They wish people were nice and always shared. The first graders tell us that they do not want people to lie or use bad words, and that they wish we would love one another. They want everyone to have a home and to be healthy. In the video, my daughter Ally, wishes that we would all give to the poor people. You can watch what they have to say here.
University of Virginia psychologist Jonathan Haidt writes about the elevation and awe we feel from observing others in acts of moral beauty. We are educated, sophisticated people. We study psychological journals, know what is meant by Fredrickson and Losada when they talk about “chaotic attractors”, and we even read PPND! Yet when I hear that the wish of a six year old child is that we all do our best, or that people would never give up, I feel inspired and elevated.
My wish is that each of us look for and notice the goodness and beauty that is all around us in every moment, and that we vigorously celebrate that treasure with one another.
So . . . what do you wish for the world, your family or yourself?
Jeff Sherrer of Sherrer & Sherrer Attorneys has generously donated the cost of professionally printing a first edition of this poster. Please contact Liisa Ogburn if you would like to get a copy by donating to the school’s PTA cultural arts program.