Posts Tagged ‘dreaming’
Will you die from an overdose of satisfaction?
The delightful Paolo Coelho quotes Salvador Dali in his blog today. I deduce that Dali is an artist. But you and I are probably more interested in his attitude to life.
“The difference between false memories and true ones is the same as for jewels: it is always the false ones that look the most real, the most brilliant. At the age of six years I wanted to be a chef. At the age of seven I wanted to be Napoleon. My ambitions have continued to grow at the same rate ever since. Every morning when I awake, the greatest of joys is mine: that of being Salvador Dali. There are some days when I think I’m going to die from an overdose of satisfaction.”
Do your ambitions continue to grow? Do you like being you?
I am pretty sure you do. I’ve never met anyone whose eyes don’t light up when we acknowledge their existence.
But so many of us are trying to be someone whom we are not. We are exhausted by our constant pretending.
It’s so much easier to look at each day and marvel at the moments when we were just doing what brings us alive. We can put aside the long commutes and grubby trains. We can put aside the dentist’s chair. As we pick our way through the rubbish tip of western life much as a small child does on the rubbish dumps of third world cities, we can still find time to celebrate not only what fascinates us but that we are fascinated at all.
Can we celebrate being us and not airbrush ourselves out of the picture leaving only the rubbish dump for the world to see? Hey this is us. Why should we bring our lives down to the tip around us? I nearly said, “sorry not me”. But I am not even going to give that possibility that much airtime. I’m too busy.
Put rubbish in the rubbish bin where it belongs
I say to university students, “when something is rubbish, pick it up and put it in the rubbish bin where it belongs. And move along.” They are always so relieved. They think they are obliged to honor rubbish. They aren’t. They just have to bin it. With gusto and applomb.
They are too busy and too interesting to waste time on refuse. That belongs on the dump.
Have your ambitions being growing at the same rate – chef at 6, Napolean at 7? If not, then it is time to bring your life alive!
Imagining goals doesn’t quite cut it
It’s a fact. Our brains don’t distinguish very much between imagining something and doing it! Mentally rehearse your perfect golf swing and your real one gets better. Sounds perfect, doesn’t it? Pity it doesn’t work with losing weight.
The trick is to imagine fully enough. We have to be able to imagine something in its entirety and reasonably accurately. We must have no objections or leave anything out!
That’s the rub. By the time you can imagine something completely, or be totally confident that it will work, you have done it already, and probably often!
Using our brain’s confusion to our advantage but keeping it real
We want to capitalize on the inability of our brains to distinguish fact from fiction but we also want to keep it real. We want to use our imagination to get us going, but bear in mind that we still have to do whatever it is that we do. We still have to stumble and fall, and get ourselves up again. (In fact, stumbling and falling and getting up again must be part of the story that we imagine – we need that skill of error recovery too!)
The ravine exercise
I’ve been using David Whyte’s story of walking alone in Nepal and coming to a ravine with a rickety bridge. He couldn’t cross it and he couldn’t double back because he had insufficient supplies. Panic!
We often find ourselves in similar predicaments. We look at what we want – the other side of the ravine. And we look at the bridge. It’s too rickety to walk on. The gap between where we are now and where we want to be feels too big. We can’t help ourselves. Our attention is drawn to the gap. We stare at the ravine and the long drop down – and we can think of nothing else.
The current advice is to do what you would do if you are on the edge of the ravine: check your pockets, see what you have to help you, make sure you are safe. Get your feet back on the ground. Then funnily, you find a way out of your predicament. Or, at least survive until the rescue party arrives.
This metaphor works – but it is still hard to do. The ravine draws our attention no matter how hard we try not to look at it.
The fast forward exercise
I’ve been trying out another mental trick but I haven’t tested it fully. Would you try it too and let me know how it works?
Think of yourself as you are now, warts and all. Now play yourself forward 10 years. Don’t change a thing. Just make yourself older and fatter!
You probably won’t like the image all that much. And you will be motivated to take the next step. List the first thing to change and do it right now.
Do you do it? Of course keep a record too. In a few weeks, you’ll look back and be surprised at how much you have got done.
I’d also like to know how much effort it took and whether you got a lot done attending to little things. The extra chocolate biscuit. The internet banking that is not done. Whatever!
The psychology of forward movement
The psychology is simple. We keep our feet firmly on the ground rooted in now. We imagine what we can imagine – what we understand – and roll it forward with obvious changes – slower, greyer, not as good looking.
Then do what has to be be done now. It is so much easier!
At least, I hope it is. Do tell me!
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