If You Were Granted 10 Wishes, What Would Yours Be?

Including the Surprising Choices Others Made

Imagine you were granted one personal wish for your life. What would you wish for?

Remember, it’s a personal wish of which you are the sole recipient. So really, it’s your chance to give yourself a gift.

One good answer is, “I’d wish for a lot more wishes.” But let’s imagine this is a one-shot deal.

What do you most wish for yourself? Think carefully.

Now, name your wish. Visualize your wish. Feel your wish. And wish that your wish has come true.

Wish #1: Wealth or Happiness. A no-brainer, surely? By choosing “wealth” you have no more money worries ever. You need never cut up another credit card. There will be no more “transaction declined” moments at cash registers. And, just for the fun of it, you can visit an ATM, punch in your PIN, and enjoy the beautiful scenery of your huge bank balance. And the rest of your life will be a paradisiacal and leisurely shopping spree in which you can purchase happily ever after. Score: on average, 90 people out of 100 choose happiness.

Wish #2: Success or Happiness. The personal happiness genie offers you the chance to enjoy unlimited, guaranteed success in whichever field you choose. Score: on average, 92 people out of 100 choose happiness. David, a very wealthy former CEO of a global information technology company, attended the course in 2001. Like many other people, he chose happiness. “I’ve experienced success without happiness before,” he said, “and what I’ve learned is that happiness is the one life goal that makes all other life goals meaningful.”

Wish #3: Fame or Happiness. Today’s society worships the “celebrity culture.” Who doesn’t want to be famous? Growing up, all I ever wanted was to be a guitarist in a world-famous rock band. I was so committed to this goal that I practiced signing my autograph for hours a day. I even got detention for practicing my autograph during a math test. Who needs math when you’re going to be famous? Score: on average, 94 people out of 100 choose happiness.

Wish #4: Status or Happiness. Status, recognition, power, and the need to be “above average” are primary ego drivers. We compare ourselves incessantly, both upwards and downwards, with anyone who gets close to us. Score: on average, 98 people out of 100 choose happiness. Sally, a former model, who had worked for over 20 years in the highly competitive world of fashion, also chose happiness. She said, “One of the beautiful effects of true happiness is that I stop comparing myself so neurotically and tragically with others.”

Wish #5: Attractiveness or Happiness. Humans love to look good and to feel good. But which do we like the most? In social research surveys, some men and the majority of women say they would like to look more attractive. Score: on average, 90 people out of 100 choose happiness. “Happiness is attractive,” said Debbie, a fashion designer. “I often forget this, but I really do look my best when I feel happy. Happiness outperforms mascara every time.” Research confirms that people who score high on happiness are attractive to others.1

Wish #6: Sex or Happiness. This wish always gets everyone’s full attention. Clare, a shiatsu practitioner, attended the course in 2002. She was particularly vocal in her opinions. “Last week I massaged Russell Crowe at the clinic. And let me tell you, if my happiness genie had given me the choice of great sex or lifelong happiness, I would have kissed happiness bye-bye.” Aside from these momentary lapses . . . Score: on average, 82 people out of 100 choose happiness.

Wish #7: Health or Happiness. The world’s great thinkers have described health as “the first of all liberties,” as “real wealth,” and as “life’s greatest blessing.”2 And, for the first time in “The Happiness Genie,” the scores are much closer. Health is undoubtedly very important to everyone. That said, the general thinking is that happiness creates health, maintains health, and even restores health. Happiness is healthy, and there is no true health without happiness. Score: on average, 65 people out of 100 choose happiness.

Wish #8: Enlightenment or Happiness. Now the stakes are really high. Would you turn down enlightenment for happiness? You are being offered the chance to know the secrets of the universe. You will never have to Google anything ever again. From now on, you can enjoy a sweet mystical sundae of truth, beauty, and oneness, dripping with lots of metaphysical toppings. Or you can choose happiness. The scores are close. On two occasions I have had to organize recounts. Score: on average, 60 people out of 100 choose happiness.

Wish #9: Authenticity or Happiness. The scores are close, but authenticity just takes it. Score: on average, 60 people out of 100 choose authenticity. When I ask a group for reasons why, the responses are often thick with indignation and incredulity. For example, “I would never sell myself for happiness,” and”I won’t betray myself for happiness,” and “I would rather be dead than inauthentic.”

Wish #10: Love or Happiness. I don’t play “The Happiness Genie” only with people who attend the course; I have also used it in my executive work with law firms, media groups, global companies, and political organizations. And, every time, without exception, when people are asked to choose between love and happiness, the majority choose love. Yes, even the lawyers, and even the politicians, and some psychologists too. Score: on average, 70 people out of 100 choose love.

Excerpted from my book, Be Happy