What Disney can teach you about wishes

Matthew Arnold Stern
3 min readNov 4, 2022

Holiday season is upon us. It’s a time when we’re encouraged to wish. We get “wish books” of holiday catalogs in the mail. Children tell their wishes to Santa about what presents they want to receive. We wish everyone the best for the holidays. And we wish we didn’t have to hear “Jingle Bells” for the 98th time.

But the expert at making wishes come true is Disney. Their movies are all about wishes coming true, whether it’s finding true love or defeating supervillains. But as their movies show us, wishing isn’t just about waving a magic wand.

Here are several lessons I’ve learned from watching Disney movies over the years. (You probably have seen these movies, especially if you have kids. If you haven’t seen these movies, spoilers are ahead.)

“A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes”

The key to making a wish come true is passion. You must believe in it wholeheartedly to sustain yourself through the challenges you’ll face in realizing it. You will confront setbacks, disappointments, and your own limitations. You need to have the passion and belief to keep pursuing your goal. As the song says, “No matter how your heart is grieving/If you keep on believing/The dream that you wish will come true.”

Find your fairy godparents

To fulfill your wish, you also need help. Don’t expect someone to wave a magic wand and turn a pumpkin into a coach. Instead, look for mentors, advisors, and experts. Join organizations, both online and in-person, where you can share ideas and get support. Your “fairy godparent” may be a book or website that provides the information you need. Seek out people who can help you and repay it by giving help to them or others.

Expect villains

The moment you pursue a wish, someone will emerge to challenge you. They may see you as a threat to their ambitions (like Lady Tremaine in Cinderella), they may want to exploit you (like Stromboli in Pinocchio), they may be jealous of you (like the Queen in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs), or they may be completely malicious (like the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland). If you have a villain, congratulations! A good enemy can help you focus your efforts, challenge your assumptions…

Matthew Arnold Stern

A novelist and award-winning public speaker and technical writer. My novels Amiga and The Remainders are available now.