This Week in Intentional Living (3/25)


Now that I’ve written about getting some rest, it’s time to talk about dreaming. In every sense.

“We all dream; we do not understand our dreams, yet we act as if nothing strange goes on in our sleep minds, strange at least by comparison with the logical, purposeful doings of our minds when we are awake.” Erich Fromm

The dictionary first defines “dream” as “a succession of images, thoughts, or emotions passing through the mind during sleep.”  We know the physical process of dreaming occurs during “rem” sleep, and we know it’s vital to health.  It seems to just happen once you slip into a good deep sleep.  And, of course, that good deep sleep is necessary to a healthy life.

Dreaming is a lot more than just a by-product of good sleeping.  We don’t have to know much about sleep science to know how important dreaming is to life. Sleeping dreams are where we process all that strange stuff that happens all day long.

I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure my subconscious filters a lot of what my eyes see and my ears hear during the day to keep my what I experience in line with what I “know.”  And then my dream cycles process all that filtered information into something my conscious mind can work with.  At least that’s the best way I can understand it.

Whether my feeble understanding of the process of physical dreaming is correct or not, I think we can all agree that dreaming is a cornerstone of healthy living.

“When you cease to dream you cease to live.” Malcolm Forbes

There’s more to dreaming than the physical process that occurs in your sleep.

The dreams we dream in our waking hours are the ones I have a better grasp of.  Those are the dreams that separate growth and achievement from monotonous existence.  Dreams – followed by active, intentional visualization – are the stuff off success, and of the healthiest living.

Sometimes it’s easy to walk through life immersed in the minutiae of the day-to-day.  There’s work to be done.  Planes to catch.  Bills to pay.  But you know what?  The people you’re working for?  The people who designed those planes?  The people you owe those bills to?  They dream.

While you’re wrapped up in going from Point A to Point B, spending all the time you’ve been given on things that won’t matter next week, the people who are living are busy dreaming.  Don’t get me wrong, they’re doing something about those dreams – taking intentional action – but the whole process starts in dreaming.

Does thinking of it as “dreaming” put you off?  Does it sound too “touchy-feely” for you?  Call it “visualization” if that makes you feel better.  Call it “brainstorming.”  Call it whatever you want – but do it.  Give yourself license to think about how things could be instead of worrying about how things are.

And by the way, if Malcolm Forbes is comfortable calling it “dreaming” … maybe it’s not too touchy-feely for you after all.

The world needs dreamers and the world needs doers. But above all, the world needs dreamers who do.” Sarah Ban Breathnach

Yes, dream.  But remember, there’s a point at which the dream has to become action, and that point will never be reached without you (and me) moving to make it real.  The substance of what can be – what needs to be – is the dream, but the nuts and bolts that hold reality together are found in the doing.

It’s a fine line.  Too much dreaming, nothing gets done.  Too much doing, innovation never happens.  “Dreamers who do” are the people about whom books are written.  They’re the people you studied in school, the people whose names are on buildings and in headlines.  They’re the people who live lives that matter – to the people around them and to themselves.

In dreams begins responsibility.” William Butler Yeats

 When you’ve dreamed the right dream, you know it.  You’ve felt that “click” that happens when the right idea floats across your mind.  At least I hope you’ve been there.

Here’s the thing:  Once you know you’ve dreamed the right dream, once you’ve felt the key turn the lock in your heart, it’s not just a good idea to do something about it, it’s an obligation.

There are people who “live” their entire lives without finding the right dream (or any dream at all).  Even if you don’t owe it to yourself to take action when you find that dream (and you do), you owe it to all of them.

When you find the right dream, you’ve found responsibility.

Dream no small dreams for they have no power to move the hearts of men.” – Goethe

 Granted, the size of the dream is relative to the dreamer.  One size does not fit all.  My dreams might seem insignificant to you, yours might seem silly to me.  Or your dreams might intimidate the hell out of me.

The point is that you – we – need to stretch our dreams.  Being open to dreams is the first step, but we can’t limit those dreams.  We have to be intentional about dreaming, as in everything.  Small dreams are as pointless as not dreaming at all.

If you need it, I’m giving you permission to dream big.  To dream the kind of dreams that have the power to move the hearts of men (and women).

Go.  Now.  There’s much to be done, and it all starts with your dream.


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