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Wishful Thinking

  • People ... believe what they wish to believe, and see what they are expecting to see.

  • If you could make a pudding wi' thinking o' the batter, it 'ud be easy getting dinner.

  • A common fallacy: to imagine a measure will be easy because we have private motives for desiring it.

  • A bachelor's children are always young: they're immortal children — always lisping, waddling, helpless, and with a chance of turning out good.

  • Many of us delude ourselves with the thought that if we could stand in the lot of our more fortunate neighbor, we could live better, happier and more useful lives. ... It is my experience that unless we can succeed in our present position, we could not succeed in any other.

  • Oh, life is a glorious cycle of song, / A medley of extemporanea; / And love is a thing that can never go wrong; / and I am Marie of Roumania.

  • It's a glorious universe the positive thinkers have come up with, a vast, shimmering aurora borealis in which desires mingle freely with their realizations. ... Dreams go out and fulfill themselves; wishes need only to be articulated.

  • All the basic technologies ever invented by human to feed and protect themselves depend on a relentless commitment to hard-nose empiricism: you cannot assume that your arrowheads will pierce the hide of a bison or that your raft will float just because the omens are propitious and you have been given supernatural reassurance that they will.

  • I realize that after decades of positive thinking the notion of realism, of things as they are, may seem a little quaint. ... When the stakes are high enough and the risks obvious, we still turn to people who can be counted on to understand those risks and prepare for worst-case scenarios. A chief of state does not want to hear a general in the field say that he 'hopes' to win tomorrow's battle or that he's 'visualizing victory' ...

  • It isn't common sense that is paramount in this world, it's wishful thinking.

  • Our blindest impulses become evidence of perspicacity when they fall in with the course of events.

    • Edith Wharton,
    • "The House of the Dead Hand," Collected Stories 1891-1910 ()
  • No fight is harder than the struggle against the thing you want most to believe.

  • I could be a millionaire if I knew how to make stuff and wasn't afraid of electricity.

  • Thea was still under the belief that public opinion could be placated; that if you clucked often enough, the hens would mistake you for one of themselves.

  • ... with them, to wish was to hope, and to hope was to expect.

  • A lady's imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony, in a moment.

  • What you wish to do you are apt to think you ought to do.

  • ... you've always been living on prospects; for my part, I'd rather have a mole-hill in possession than a mountain in prospect.

  • There is, happily, no limit to the faith of human nature in believing what it wants to believe.

  • The cure-alls of the present day are infinitely various and infinitely obliging. Applied psychology, autosuggestion, and royal roads to learning or to wealth are urged upon us by kindly, if not altogether disinterested, reformers. Simple and easy systems for the dissolution of discord and strife; simple and easy systems for the development of personality and power. Booklets of counsel on 'How to Get What We Want,' which is impossible; booklets on 'Visualization,' warranted to make us want what we get, which is ignoble.

  • The age of credulity is every age the world has ever known. Men have always turned from the ascertained, which is limited and discouraging, to the dubious, which is unlimited and full of hope for everybody.

    • Agnes Repplier,
    • "The Public Looks at Pills," Times and Tendencies ()
  • ... it is a curious fact, but one which all experience owns, that people do not desire so much to appear better, as to appear different from what they really are.

  • You can look at a mule ten different ways, but it's never gonna be a horse.

  • You can dress a frog in silk drawers but that don't stop him from croakin'.

  • I loved an image of him which did not exist. When he is away, this image begins to obsess me. It invades me, and I begin to believe in it again. It is destroyed each time I see him.

    • Anaïs Nin,
    • 1934, The Diary of Anaïs Nin, vol. 1 ()
  • What we wish, we are very apt to believe.

    • Abigail Adams,
    • letter (1818), in John P. Kaminski, The Quotable Abigail Adams ()
  • Some people never seem to learn from experience. No matter how often they had seen the lion devour the lamb, they continued to cling to the hope that the nature of the beast might change. If only the lion could get to know the lamb better, they argued, or talk matters over ...

  • Other people's ideas of us are dependent largely on what they've hoped for.

    • Zelda Fitzgerald,
    • "Scandalabra" (1932), in Matthew J. Bruccoli, ed., Zelda Fitzgerald: The Collected Writings ()
  • Wooden-headedness, the source of self-deception, is a factor that plays a remarkably large role in government. It consists in assessing a situation in terms of preconceived fixed notions while ignoring or rejecting any contrary signs. It is acting according to wish while not allowing oneself to be deflected by the facts.

  • If my grandmother had wheels she'd be a bus and we could all go for a ride in her.

  • People hear what they want and expect to hear, not what is said.

  • No one seemed able to look at themselves, coolly, from the outside. Their reality was all that could be seen in the light cast ahead by their own wishful thinking.

  • On some level, almost every client wanted to believe that the girl was spending time with him not for money, but because she found him irresistible.

  • A wistful desire for self-justification sometimes possessed her, and a complete absence of judgment led her to ask it from the quarter in which she was least likely to receive it.

  • Eyes see what they hope for.

    • Diana Cooper,
    • 1953, in Artemis Cooper, ed., The Letters of Evelyn Waugh and Diana Cooper ()
  • ... the national belief that there was a golden age of the family, a time when women and men contentedly played out their roles as given, when female chastity resolved the sexual conflicts between women and men, expresses not a reality about the past, but a longing for a world that exists in imagination alone.

  • ... hope is not a plan of action.

  • ... it is possible to wish so greatly for the unattained that in time you believe it has been won — indeed, you can even remember the winning of it ...

  • ... I've found that people who look at things as they are, and not as they wish them to be, are the ones who succeed.

  • Disillusions all come from within ... from the failure of some dear and secret hope. The world makes no promises; we only dream it does; and when we wake, we cry!

  • There's nothing harder to stop than somebody who wants to believe a miracle.

  • The You I loved was my creation — mine, / Without a counterpart within yourself. / I gave you thoughts and soul and heart / Taken from Love's ideal.

    • Kate Greenaway,
    • in Marion Harry Spielmann and George Somes Layard, Kate Greenaway ()
  • He had a fallacious belief, cherished by countless human beings, that he looked years younger than his age.

  • Of all the fatal mistakes that have been made to impede the progress of the human race, this perhaps has been the most fatal, viz., the superstition that we have nothing to do but to exert the will, as it is called, and all former error will be rectified, all future good secured. ... If we believed that a man with one diseased lung has nothing to do but to will, in order to have two good ones; if we believed that a man when he is hungry has nothing to do but to will in order to eat, the human race would soon perish. Are not the laws of the spiritual world at least as numerous, important, and worthy of study as those of the physical?

    • Florence Nightingale,
    • 1860, in Michael D. Calabria and Janet A. Macrae, eds., Suggestions for Thought ()
  • ... wishful thinking dies harder than true love.

  • ... in conditions of great uncertainty people tend to predict the events that they want to happen actually will happen.

  • In real life wishing, divorced from willing, is sterile and begets nothing.

    • Cynthia Ozick,
    • "Morgan and Maurice: A Fairy Tale," Art and Ardor ()
  • No babe / We'd never / Swing together but / the syncopation / would be something wild.

  • Who you want people to be makes you blind to who they really are.