A few weeks ago I had the honour of speaking at the very first Rotary Club in Britain. The Rotary Club began in the US in 1905 and continues doing good work all over the globe. Speaking in London, it was an opportunity for me to share with their members some thoughts about the importance of having dreams.
To be clear, I’m not talking about the nocturnal activity that goes on in your brain but rather the awake, conscious desires of our hearts and minds. It seemed fitting as the founder of the Rotary club Paul Harris is quoted as saying this about dreaming.
“Perhaps dreaming is not so bad if one dreams good dreams and makes them come true.”
He was known to encourage dreaming in the Rotary Club, but also knew the importance of taking action towards making the dreams come true. For a dream without action is fantasy, and with action it becomes a goal something that is achievable.
The (misguided) American Dream
Having spent almost half my life living in America, I am a fan of the American ‘can do’ spirit, the ease with which the citizens talk openly about their dreams, and I too became someone who connects to her dreams and desires easily. But it seems that chasing the American Dream has met with some difficulty, least of which, as it is often depicted…chasing wealth, material possessions, job promotions and such like, is actually correlated with lower levels of happiness and satisfaction. So what is going wrong with our dreaming? Luckily, Kasser and Ryan from the University of Rochester in New York decided to do some research and find out.
The research paper titled ‘Further Examining the American Dream: Differential Correlates of Intrinsic and Extrinsic Goals’ looks at the type of dreams we have and their outcomes.
Kasser and Ryan defined dreams into two categories: intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic dreams are the desire that people have to feel self-acceptance, to create affiliation with a group, to have a sense of community feeling and focus on physical health and wellness. Extrinsic dreams are seeking praise and reward from others, seeking promotions, gaining financial success, finding a level of fame through social recognition and caring about how one looks in their appearance.
What they found is that when people seek to chase extrinsic dreams they have lower vitality and lower self-actualisation than the intrinsic dream group who had higher levels of well-being and lower levels of distress.
Why is this even relevant? There is rarely a person that I meet who doesn’t want to be happy and have a positive impact during their lifetime. Whether they seek their impact to be in aid of the betterment for humans, animals or the planet. When we gain the benefits of pursuing intrinsic dreams, we become lit from the inside, like a lightbulb. Here’s the thing, the power source is within us…and we shine our light, our influence, our impact, our legacy on those around us. You know those happy, confident people who we say “light up a room” with their presence? Well, they are lit from the inside, and you can be too.
Those chasing extrinsic dreams, simply chase whatever rays of light they can feel reflected to them from others. If you think about someone like Kim Kardashian, she seeks extrinsic dreams of social status through fame, appreciation for her appearance through media opinion, and for her it appears that validation is primarily from others. She is not lit from the inside, she is carefully lit from the bulbs of cameras around her. Her power is dependent on those around her to continue to pay attention and shine their light on her.
Throughout history, philosophers, great orators, poets, musicians, authors, heck just about everyone has appreciated the gift of dreaming, for with dreams we can make the impossible, possible.
Martin Luther King famously said “I have a dream…” and with that, his light created crucial social change.
T.E. Lawrence wrote a poem about the power of being a dreamer.
All men dream, but not equally.
Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds,
wake in the day to find that it was vanity:
but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men,
for they may act on their dreams with open eyes,
to make them possible.
And for the more musically minded, the lyrics of Aerosmith tell us to:
Dream on, dream on, dream on, dream on till your dreams come true.
So please, dream…intrinsic dreams. Take action on your dreams and make them goals. Dream big enough that you might just change your life, or the world.
Be prepared to be lit from the inside.
If you’d like more information about working with Rachel to become lit from the inside then get in contact today.