It being January, it’s customary for everyone to either dutifully make plans and resolutions for a better, brighter future, or adopt the role of the rebel / iconoclast / misanthrope and say, ‘To hell with that! Pass the tequila!’
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams, wrote William Butler Yeats. Sage advice, one should always beware of treading on dreams, especially the ones featuring cacti or hedgehogs. I personally always wear dream slippers, just in case. They are extremely fluffy, like clouds. In fact I think they are clouds, which probably explains the floating and the mysterious indoor downpours.
The phrase may all your dreams come true might conjure up rather disturbing pictures – who’d want to live in the visions of Salvador Dali or Hieronymus Bosch? There are plenty of dreams I’d prefer not to see happen, especially that one with the giant space-eels nesting in my sock drawer and keeping me awake all night with renditions of old eighties pop hits. I mean we all love Duran Duran and Soft Cell, but there’s a time and a place for Rio and Tainted Love.
According to some, the secret of making your dreams come true is all about utilising something called the Law of Attraction. This pile of hokum perfectly proves the dictum There’s a sucker born every minute. Of course it worked for the author of that book, because that’s how these things generally work – promise folks something amazing but nebulous and if it fails to materialise, you can always say, you weren’t doing it right / trying hard enough.
The reason why such notions remain popular is simply down to the tendency for us to want easy solutions and shortcuts. Why slave over a project for years with no guarantees of success, when you can use this magic principle / amulet / charm made from unicorn poop to bring you instant fame and fortune? Only twenty quid! Or get two for thirty!
There are certainly ways to increase your chances of seeing your more down-to-Earth dreams fulfilled. The psychologist and amateur magician Richard Wiseman has looked at the factors that tend to separate the ‘lucky’ people from the rest. It’s not good news if, like me, you tend towards the introverted end of the sociability scale.
Lucky people it seems tend to be more extrovert and open. They also tend to be less neurotic. It makes sense, if you meet lots of people and are relaxed, friendly and sociable, your chances of ‘lucky’ encounters and events occurring are greater. No magic, simply a question of opportunities and connections.
Our mindset can make a big difference too. A mishap, setback or catastrophe can be an impossible hurdle for some, while others turn it into a chance for growth and even success. Silver linings are surprisingly common, when you start to look for them. It’s often the thinking style we’ve adopted that makes the difference and there is some evidence that it can be modified, once we are aware of it.
There usually comes a point in life when most of us have to give up on some of our dreams and face reality. I know it’s unlikely I’ll be joining astronaut school or winning an Oscar / Nobel peace prize anytime soon. I’m still hopeful about the Mr Universe title though and I’m sure the good people of Time magazine will be calling soon re the cover shoot.
It’s nice to have dreams, but we have to accept our limitations. So dream big, but try to keep it real people. Now, where’s that bottle of tequila?
Copyright J.Lennick 2016 All rights reserved.
Illustration from Alice in Wonderland by John Tenniel