Positive Fantasy

August 20, 2018 Justin Peter Gudel

“Positive fantasy happens when we put a small amount of effort into thinking about the future or what the future might hold while doing little to move towards that goal.”


Jon asked me, “How’s Punk doing?”

He wasn’t asking about the music scene. He’s probably closer to fifty than forty and has grown kids not much younger than me.  He grew up with the Ramones. He didn’t want me to tell him how the newest and latest artists are keeping the dream alive. He wanted to know how PunkChiridion was doing.  

He’s one of my financial friends.  He’s one of the people that helped me get PunkChiridion off the ground.  

More to the point, what he was asking was what is PunkChiridion doing?  

In the world of nonprofits, you need to be doing something, or you’re just taking up space.

I hate to admit it, but there are times that I’m just taking up space.  His honest question filled me with conviction. I have so many possible things that I want to do that I often don’t do them.  It’s easier to think about what I will be doing in the future than to do anything — even the tiniest of things — now.

One behavioral researcher, Gabriele Oettingen, calls this positive fantasy.  Positive fantasy happens when we put a small amount of effort into thinking about the future or what the future might hold while doing little to move towards that goal.  We all do it.

“I can’t wait to clean the garage out so I can park my car.  I’ll get started on that as soon as I have a free weekend.”

“Once I make it through the quarterly reviews I’ll be able to spend time with my family.”

“I’m worried about my term paper.  I’ll start working on it after this nap.”

“I’ll be happy once I get the promotion.”

Positive fantasies can be small or large.  They can be about being in a better place financially, or how we will have more time to do that thing that we love.  “Once I’ve made it. I’ll surf every day.”

The problem, as Gabriele sees it, positive fantasies give us immediate short gains at a substantial long-term cost.  

You see, it’s easy to think about what we could be doing tomorrow.  But it’s harder to get up and then do said the thing. It’s why people decide to lose weight in December only to have given up on the decision by January 16.  Physiologically, we get chemicals like endorphins when we think about this positive future reality. Those chemicals hit us at the moment, and we feel good about where we are and where we are going.

The problem, we often don’t follow through with the fantasy.  And when we fail, it hurts psychologically. Sometimes it’s the feeling of disappointment.  Other times it can mean that we’ve put off the work that needed to be done and we’re now facing an even bigger pile of work, than had we started right away.  

We can go so far as to say, that we risk serious hurt, like depression when we don’t realize our dreams.

It’s what the midlife crisis is all about!

I bring all of this up to share a point.  

We all fantasize about the future.  We all plan on doing beneficial things for ourselves or others.  It is a part of being human beings.

I’m not saying we should try to inhibit these moments of reflection. Instead, I’m positing that now that they’ve been identified, we move on into a plan on making them happen.

My first step to accomplishing anything meaningful is to say it out loud.  

My second step is sharing it with others that will hold me accountable.

Then I take any step forward; usually, this starts with creating a gameplan.

Any possible step.  It doesn’t matter how small, but you’ve got to step forward, or you’ll never reach your goal.

PunkChiridion wants to be an intellectual space focused on evangelism.  It intends to do behavioral science while it shares a down to earth message about Jesus.  PunkChiridion is about making conversations about Christ.

So how does it step forward?

Below are several of the small and immediate things that we are going to be putting effort into.  These things leave out the more prominent resources and workshops. These are the things that PunkC can do on its own over the next 100 days.  These are the things that will be visible while we are working on the bigger behind the scenes projects.

Drinking w/ Strangers

I’ve had many requests to bring this back.  So we’re doing it. In 2015 I had about twenty recorded conversations with dechuched individuals about what mattered to them.  Part of the discussion was about why they left the church. Another part focused on their values. The last piece focused on how they would make the world a better place.  

The best part, there was so much overlap between what the dechurched said and with what I believe.  When they talked about making the world a better place I agreed with most of what they were saying.

The common ground was the powerful thing here.

This next round of Drinking with strangers will not only have transcripts, but it will also have the audio for those that would like to listen.  Look for it to be a weekly addition.

From the Street

I don’t have an excellent name for this yet, but it’s the things that PunkChiridion does that interacts with people where they are at.  Thus the chosen word ‘street’. It’s where Punk goes out to local gaming stores and interacts with gamers. It’s where several volunteers go onto college campuses and get quick surveys.  It’s that man with a camcorder asking inane questions for Jay-Walking.

Shareable Content

The last of the low hanging fruit is that we’ll be working on getting out small bits of shareable content while we are working on our more significant resources.  While I’m writing up a program for this winter, I’ll still be drawing comics and putting meaningful quotes to images.

This isn’t the point of PunkChiridion, but it’s part of what shows that we’re still here still doing stuff and we’d like you to be part of it.

Included in all of this will be the continued blog posts and interactions on Facebook.  

I hope the above gameplan is not positive fantasies and that you hold us accountable.


Once more, boys and girls on the internet, let’s have an earnest time together.