Following Your Dreams Won't Make You Happy
However, there is one thing that is just as good
Following Your Dreams Won't Make You Happy
I encourage dreamers to follow their dreams. I follow my dreams. Even the United States Declaration of Independence asserts that we have inalienable rights, which among them is “the pursuit of happiness.”
There is a way to be happy, but success, or following your dreams, is not the way. Following your dreams, at times, can actually be quite stressful, frustrating, and discouraging.
What We Really Seek
When we think of a state we would like to be in all the time, I believe the word that comes to mind for most people is happiness.
We all seek something, all the time. The basic things we seek are food, water, shelter and security. We also seek friendship, love, and companionship. When we gain any of these things, we have a feeling of satisfaction, but only for a period of time.
The "happiness" we seek is hard to find because it's really a set of things. I discovered this through a course by Tony Robbins.
Tony Robbins teaches that the continuous feeling of happiness will always elude us. Happiness is a feeling, and it is impossible to sustain an emotion for an extended period of time. Happiness is a feeling just like sadness is a feeling. We have many feelings: happy, sad, angry, jealous, playful, fearful, ecstatic, melancholy, bored, and so on. Feelings do not linger. Feelings will always come and go. However, there is a state of being that transcends feelings. That state is fulfillment.
Fulfillment, according to Tony Robbins, is really what we are trying to obtain. Tony says there are six things we need in order to have a sense of fulfillment. I believe this is one of the most important things in life to know, or at least ponder. The six needs for a fulfilling life are:
Certainty - Having something that you can depend on brings comfort when times are trying. For example: faith in God, a higher power, a good friend, family, etc.
Variety - Having a certain amount of uncertainty is good for growth. Trying a variety of activities, career changes, or travel.
Significance - Something that gives you a sense of significance, such as education, skill, club membership, etc.
Connection/Love - Relationship, team, club, support group, life group, etc.
Growth - Classes, leadership, lifelong learning, etc.
Contribute - Find and contribute to a worthy cause. Give money, give time, give talent, etc.
Even if this is not a perfect list, I believe it is a great starting point to see and try for yourself.
Follow Your Dreams
Following your dreams can meet some of these needs of fulfillment, but not all of them. So why follow your dreams?
Abraham Maslow was an American psychologist who developed the theory of human motivation known as the “hierarchy of needs.” Maslow suggests that all human beings have the same specific needs, from the obvious: air, food, and water, to the psychological, such as: respect and self-esteem. There is one more need Maslow defines, and it directly correlates to following your dreams.
At the very top of the need hierarchy is what Maslow calls Self-Actualization. Self-actualization is the highest level of need in Maslow's hierarchy of needs. It represents the desire for personal growth and fulfillment of one's potential.
Self-Actualization is the human need that unites fulfillment with following your dreams: the desire for personal growth and fulfillment of one's potential.
So, fulfilling one’s potential is not some unrealistic fantasy. Neither is following your dreams.
Need to Create
I believe we also have a need to express our creativity. Everywhere we look we see the evidence of what has been created. Our clothes, our shelter, our roads, our transportation, our books, and so on. We are surrounded by creation.
Even in the book of Genesis (chapter 4) we find a record of early creators. Jubal was the father of all who play stringed instruments and pipes. Tubal-Cain forged all kinds of tools out of bronze and iron.
We are all creators. And everything that is created must first be imagined. Our dreams must begin with imagination before they can be created. Our ability to dream is a gift that we all possess, and choose to exercise.
Following your dreams is not silly, foolish, or unrealistic. This anti-dreamer line of thinking usually originates from external sources. The great risk of listening to the anti-dreamers is that we censor our own desire (need!) to express our potential.
We can easily shut down these external sources of negative influence through education. I discuss this in detail in my first book FOUNDER.
It’s also important to understand that following our dreams is not the key to happiness. It is, however, a means to exercise our desire to create and fulfill our potential, which Abraham Maslow clearly explains is a human need.
Ultimately, what we want is to live a fulfilling life. I believe Tony Robbins has the best answer for living a fulfilling life. Abraham Maslow gives us proof that we all have a need for personal growth and to express our potential.
Following your dreams is not some unrealistic fantasy. Tony Robbins, Abraham Maslow, and many others, lay a strong foundation that supports the idea of following your dreams.
Following our dreams is simply being human to our fullest. It is a way to express our creativity and exercise our potential. So follow your dreams, grow, and express yourself. You’re in good company.
To your success!
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