Kids with critical illnesses face dark days regularly, pandemic or no pandemic. Many are isolated, afraid, and missing typical childhood events – summer camp, school dances, trips, etc. Make-A-Wish strives to bring light into their lives and to give these kids something positive to look forward to.
Anticipation is a really powerful thing. Try to remember that feeling of attempting to sleep the night before a holiday, or waiting to open up presents on your birthday. It brings an energy like nothing else can. This is just one thing a wish brings to a child.
There are many psychological benefits of having something positive and exciting to look forward to. According to experts in “The Psychological Benefits Of Having Things To Look Forward To” by Kelsey Borrenson, here are just a few:
It makes you feel optimistic about the future.
“Anxiety is typically how our bodies respond to horrible things that may happen in the future,” said Ryan Howes, a clinical psychologist in Pasadena, California. By having something fun coming down the pipeline, you’re effectively challenging those pessimistic beliefs about what lies ahead. “You’re imagining a new potential future — one with good times and challenges overcome instead of a bleak, powerless tomorrow,” Howes said.
It’s a pleasant distraction.
Daydreaming about all the potential of these happy future experiences can fill you with excitement. “It’s fun to have all of those possible futures we spin in our minds,” said Jaime Kurtz, associate professor of psychology at James Madison University.
Experts suggest that creating a vision board (or planning for a wish!) is a powerful motivator to help you get through difficult times, and helps you fantasize about the positive experiences to come. It gives you energy to endure difficult present circumstances.
It motivates you to keep going when you want to give up.
“Anticipation implies a future reward, and rewards are powerful motivators,” said therapist LeNaya Smith Crawford. Knowing that something good is coming your way pushes you to accomplish tasks you may not necessarily want to do. It can help kids get through difficult treatments, painful tests or long hospital stays.
“Anticipation also creates discipline,” Smith Crawford said. “It helps with delayed gratification. This teaches us that if we can be patient, a greater experience — or reward — is upon us.”
Imagining a brighter future also adds us meaning to our lives, Howes said. “We can see the toil and struggle of today paying off with meaningful outcomes later,” he said. “If you believe today’s toil will be worth it in the end, it makes it much more tolerable to endure the hard times.”