Get Happier: Wish for Five Nice Things


*This post first appeared back in 2012, and we brought it back because it’s a fun way to start the week!

The other night over dinner with friends, I invented a new game.

As we tore into our appetizers of fennel salad, roasted cauliflower and Cabernet (yes, wine counts), we played a round of something I’ll call Wish for Five Nice Things.

Our friends are good sports, and they know me well enough to just roll with this kind of cheesy forced-participation dinnertime activity when inspiration strikes. The three of us have played Say Five Nice Things together several times over shared meals. On another occasion, we decided that everyone at the table should say something nice to the person to our right, then we switched and did the person to our left. So corny, I know.

This one’s a little different. Instead of pointing out things that you like, focus on what you’d like to have. In your life. Now or later.

Examples: Maybe you’d like that weird-in-a-bad-way recurring dream to stop happening. Maybe you find yourself stuck in a pattern you’d like to break, or you wish you could actually try crow pose instead of running to the bathroom every time it comes up at yoga. Or maybe you’ve got your eye on a new job, or a cute guy or girl or…a killer pair of pumps? This game, like Say Five Nice Things, doesn’t have to be heavy.

So why bother? First, remember, this isn’t about finding a thing outside of yourself that will fix all your problems. Instead, it’s about setting an intention, saying it out loud so you kind of own the thing, and then risking wishing for what you secretly know you want but for which you are maybe a little scared to ask from universe/yourself/your partner/your body etc. So maybe “wish” is the wrong word, but we’ll work with that for now.

Still need convincing? Here are four reasons to play Wish For Five Nice Things:

1. We’re a goal-oriented species. My acupuncturist is good at reminding me that life goes by in a snap if you don’t actively participate in it. Actually, it goes by in a snap no matter how you live, so it’s a nice idea to try to be present, see what’s in front of you, and create the life you want. I find setting intentions—out loud, or out loud in my head—to be useful day-to-day, and in a big-picture kind of way.

2. It helps you identify what it is you really want. This is not easy! I will go on the record and say that this year has totally kicked my ass. But it’s also taught me a great deal about the preciousness of life and how much it matters where you put your energy. A lot of folks are take-what-comes kind of people in some area of their life. There is nothing wrong with living that way. In fact, it’s the goal of many spiritual practices. But there’s a difference between rolling with the punches, because the punches will always roll, and not actually thinking about—and risking going after—what it is you really want. Even if that thing happens to be shoes.

3. It puts you in the driver’s seat. Again, this is why “wish” isn’t quite right, but life has taught me that when you vocalize what you want, as opposed to just taking whatever it throws at you, you are primed to risk getting it—by actually doing something. At the very least, it can help you set in action a course you could follow to get that thing. Or so goes my logic.

4. It’s nice to wish for things for other people. So we played this game at dinner, and then at the bar across the street with different friends after, and guess what happened? Everyone just totally came alive, excited by their own wishes, but especially about everyone else’s. It gives you something to wish for on behalf of your loved ones (or, if you’re stuck, you can always just steal their good ones). But it’s nice to wish for things for other people, especially when it’s not the thing you think they need, or the thing you think they should want, but what they picked themselves.

So! We’d love you to list five nice things YOU want for yourself in the comments. If you’re feeling shy, grab a piece of paper and write it down. We’d also encourage you to try it with your friends or your lover. And if you’re up for a bonus round (I always am), play Say Five Nice Things, too.

5 Responses to “Get Happier: Wish for Five Nice Things”
  1. Rose says:

    Photo credit or artist for the image used?

  2. Emma B says:

    I’ve always liked this game. Here we go, five nice things I want for myself:

    1) I want to find / cultivate some inner stillness in the maelstrom that is my life.
    2) I want to beat the demons of procrastination and to be able to really focus on my work.
    3) I want to heal my body from minor health problems.
    4) I want to commit to working out three times a week.
    5) I want more stability in my work life, either a longer contract or a permanent position.

  3. Silvy says:

    Oh, this is awesome! Thanks for bringing this post back. I’m currently being treated for depression, and goal-setting, along with a gratitude practice, are huge. It’s important to have aspirations and intention, and also accept and remain in the present. And it’s really inspiring for me to read other peoples’ goals and intentions. :)

    1) I want to remain positive through the big transition to a different state that’s coming this summer, and be a source of stability and support for my partner.
    2) I want to regain my independence and get comfortable with myself again, comfortable with being alone, instead of fearing it.
    3) I want to stay motivated and become even more involved in my new community than I was in my current one.
    4) I want to appreciate myself and how far I have come and grow my confidence.
    5) I want to embrace my creative self again and work on a project of my choosing at least once a week.

  4. Christina says:

    Five nice things I want for myself:

    1) To travel
    2) To have inner and outer beauty radiate ( clear skin, confidence, self love)
    3) To be able to speak up/ be me flaws and all
    4) To connect deeply even if it scares me
    5) To be able to let go and not dwell

  5. Eliza Nimon says:

    1. I desire to find my soul mate/romantic partner THIS YEAR in 2015!
    2. I desire $50k to reset my finances and start fresh the concept of money abundance in my life.
    3. I desire to travel to Asia, South America and eastern Europe in 2015 with virtually all costs covered by someone else.
    4. I desire a savvy tax person to contact me this week, do my taxes and to get me money back AND amend my last 3 years of taxes and get me money back from those years too!
    5. I desire $5k to spend on a new wardrobe.

    BOOM! Universe, what do you think?? :)

    In gratitude and love,

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