What Do You Want?

For many people, this time of year is about gift-giving and -receiving. Little children are expected to sit on Santa’s lap and tell them what they want for Christmas. Even for adults, this time of year can be a good opportunity to answer the question: What do you want?

As an added bonus, it doesn’t even need to be Christmas specific. In general, what is it you want — for yourself, for your community, or for the world at large?


Listen to a podcast where Michael and Lee discuss the related question: ‘How do you define success?’ We also discuss a bonus question: ‘Is happiness the most important purpose in life?’


This question, when tied to the Christmas holiday, tends to be focused on the commercial. What present should someone wrap and put under the tree? However, in our thought exercise, it can be more than that. Not there is anything wrong with wanting a material good, like a new smartphone or a video game console. But you may also want something abstract, like justice, or peace, or happiness.

Knowing what it is that you want, some would argue, is the first step to getting it.  After all, if you don’t know what it is that you want, how will you know if you have achieved it?

So, like a child standing in line at the mall, waiting for a chance to sit on Santa’s lap, think about what you plan on asking for. What do you want?

Related questions: What new technology do you want? What do you want to do before you die? Why do we like what we like? What would you do with a million dollars?

4 thoughts on “What Do You Want?”

  1. I am happy to say I don’t have many material wants. But for Christmas, I’ll just note that I want (and know I’ll be receiving) several books. Books are wonderful, aren’t they? I read mainly non-fiction, so always having a book to read keeps me learning new things about the world and issues I care about or am curious about.

    On the achievable social justice front, I want America and Minnesota to make homelessness rare, brief, and non-recurring. (When I say I want to end homelessness, that’s what I mean.) It actually costs us more to manage homelessness than to end it — as has already been proven with some of the hardest to serve homeless populations.

    And from the perspective that we really have no choice, I want the populace and our elected leaders to acknowledge and take action as if climate change is the existential crisis that it is. We are already slow-burn suffering from it in this country. But did you know that some island nations are already disappearing due to ocean levels rising? Nations disappearing! Additionally, around the globe, major climate events (e.g., fires, droughts, torrential rains) threaten everything from people’s homes to extremely fragile food systems. We can’t kick the can on this any longer. And we can’t reverse it. All we can choose to do is act now and mitigate climate change’s impacts, or else humanity is in deep trouble.

  2. For Christmas, I want a quiet day with my wife, our cats, and a few books.

    For myself, I want to read more, bike more, and continued good health.

    For the world, I want intellectual curiosity and honesty, even when that means facing some painful truths.

  3. Physically, I would ask for a strong back and more muscle. Mentally and spiritually I would ask for “the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can (such as in conservation, the environment and world peace) and the wisdom to know the difference.”

  4. I happen to be in the middle of rewatching the ‘Babylon 5’ series.

    This is the same question The Shadows ask everyone; things go badly afterwards.

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