Words That Matter, Part 6: The Problems with “Want and Wish

By Greg Baer M.D.

December 14, 2015

We are often careless with our words, and some of them are so laden with negative meanings that we cause great harm without realizing it. Recently I began a discussion of such words,

Words That Matter Part 5
Words That Matter Part 4
Words That Matter Part 3
Words That Matter Part 2
Words That Really Matter

and now we’ll continue with more:

The Problems with Want and Wish

Nearly all of us talk a lot about what we want:

I want more money
I wish things were easier.
I want other people to be more reasonable.
I wish my husband listened to me.
I want to be happier.
I wish I could lose weight.

The Problems with "Want": Why "Need" is More Powerful

Many of these desires sound reasonable, so what’s the problem? 

The problems with wanting and wishing are manifold:

  • We tend to want things that are actually harmful for us. We want more money, for example, when more money would only blind us to what would bring us true happiness. Money is often an emotionally fatal distraction.
  •  We want our difficulties or shortcomings simply to disappear, thereby depriving us of the struggle to surmount them ourselves, a struggle that builds the kind of character we truly need in order to be happy.
  • In our obsession with what we wish—a kind of magic—we neglect what we NEED. We want convenience, when we need strength. We want other people to change, when we really need to pay attention to our own flaws. We want our afflictions to disappear, while our true need is to learn how to live with them and to learn from them.

From "Want and Wish" to Action: Steps Toward a Fulfilling Life

What can we say instead of whining about what we want?

  • “I need to be more responsible, and as I do, I hope and pray for greater happiness.”
  •  “I need to be more humble and pay more attention to my own flaws, instead of wanting other people to change for my convenience.”
  • “I choose to be more grateful for all the love and blessings I do have, instead of constantly wanting what I don’t have.”
  •  “I will be diligent about watching for the next step I need to take in moving toward being loving, instead of waiting for others to love me and complaining when they don’t.

In future blogs we’ll discuss more words that have a much greater negative effect than we realize or intend.

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About the author 

Greg Baer, M.D.

I am the founder of The Real Love® Company, Inc, a non-profit organization. Following the sale of my successful ophthalmology practice I have dedicated the past 25 years to teaching people a remarkable process that replaces all of life's "crazy" with peace, confidence and meaning in various aspects of their personal lives, including parenting, marriages, the workplace and more.

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