It’s in our nature to want better things for ourselves. We dream of a better life. We dream of a bigger house. We dream of a better place. We dream of a better car. We want better food. Better education. Better body. You name it, we want it bigger, better and more.
We’re focused outward with our eyes in the direction of our goals, dreams and aspirations.
Like the Pandora myth, the last thing we have in our box of tricks is hope. Islands of hope in a sea mischief, misery and mayhem is what keeps us in the game of life.
Without hope, most of us would give up and let despair engulf us. What would be the point of continuing if there was no end to our misery and suffering? Hope is the flame that keeps us going. It keeps us wanting for more, bigger and better. Hope is the eternal heartbeat that keeps us alive.
But, what is hope about? Why do we strive for bigger and better for our lives? Surely, it’s so that we can feel secure, worthy, happy and fulfilled.
The flip side of hope is that it can be a dangerous and dark force. It can stop us from achieving our goals and it can set us up for disappointment.
In the first instance, we’re actually scared to achieve what we set out to do because we’re like the proverbial dog that chases the car … what does it do with it when it catches it?
What if the thing we want is not the actual thing we want? What if it’s a big fat disappointment? What if we still feel insecure, unfulfilled, powerless and out of harmony?
So, we sabotage our dreams so that we don’t achieve what we want. Of course, whilst something is out of our reach that we want, we can always keep the flame of hope alive.
They Lived Happily Ever After
In the second instance, few stories delve into what’s after the ‘happily ever after’. Nobody digs into the drama and disappointment of having and owning the things we desire. How did it work out for the Prince that married Snow White? He had seven extra mouths to feed. And, that was after he wiped the noses and cleaned the backsides of his two children. He’d go to bed with Snow White’s shrill voice ringing in his ears, “We need a bigger castle. Sleepy needs a better bed, Grumpy needs more Prozac and Dopey needs an education. You’re never home. How can I present myself to court with this dress? Why aren’t you King yet?”
The more we get, the more challenges are attached to what we have. Things become more complicated and stressful. Soon the Prince will wish (and hope) for the days gone by. When all he had to do was shoot deer, kill other men in some far-flung land, drink beer and flirt with anything in a skirt. Snow White too will have her own dreams. She’ll be coquettish with the King (who is widowed). Who wants to be a Princess when you can be a Queen? She’ll remember when she got high with Happy and dumbed it down with Dopey. Ah, those were the days … carefree, unfettered and uncomplicated.
Destinations can kill dreams
It appears that the destinations we want to go to and the things we want can be dream killers. In real life, they don’t live up to the picture we’ve created in our mind.
Why is this? There’s no easy answer. But, one that works for me is that the world never gives you precisely what you want, does it?
- How long does that ‘new car smell’ last before we’re hankering for a newer and better car?
- How long before we’re dissatisfied with the house we live in, and want a bigger and better one?
- How long are we satisfied with our partner before we want to upgrade?
It’s clear to me that the more we want from the world, the less satisfied we are. And, the more we have, the more insecure we are because we are afraid that it’ll be taken from us.
The trick is not to figure out what we can take from the world but rather what we can give to the world. The trick is not to have a bigger house, car and life but to have a bigger purpose.
I’ve dreamed of
I’ve hankered for things. I’ve dreamed of exotic destinations. I’ve got some of the things I hankered for and I’ve been to some of the destinations I’ve dreamed of. That iPad I had to have; where’s it now? I gave it to my daughter, Rebecca. I think she’ll get more use out of it than I can. The top of the range Macbook Pro is now only used for presenting my keynotes. Now days when I train people, I use a flip chart whilst the Macbook Pro gathers dust. I write this article on a 10 year old, iMac desktop. The Tag Heuer lies in the drawer for months at a time. The Mercedes lost its magic long time ago.
I couldn’t handle more than a week in Mauritius, Hamilton Island or the Kruger National Park. Beautiful and spectacular as they are, they wore thin after three days. I hankered more for connection. I dreamt of being useful. I searched for purpose. I started looking inwards as opposed to the outer beauty that was around me. The same happened in Italy and France. All the culture, croissants and castles couldn’t keep me happy for long. I was still the same human with its foibles, fears, insecurities and hopes. The destination didn’t change my inner situation.
The exotic destinations didn’t make my dreams come true. In fact, my dreams died there. I’m unconvinced that we were born to lie on the beach and soak up the sun. I’m unconvinced that the two-week holiday we hanker for every year will ever fill our hearts.
I have to agree with Carlos Castaneda when he said, “All paths are the same; they lead nowhere.” He added that we should find a path with heart. The trick of finding a path with heart is not in the outward journey … not in the destination.
For me, a path with heart is an inner journey. Finding out and discovering who we really are, how we can connect with others and be useful to them is a path that can ignite hearts. This path leads to happiness and fulfilment. This path doesn’t care whether we’re in a one-bedroomed flat in Yeoville or a 5-star hotel in Monte Carlo. This path can make us happy no matter our circumstances. It’s a path of purpose. It’s a path where we get to choose how we respond.
Think about your purpose
If we think about purpose, what makes us happy, fulfilled and harmonious? We get those feelings when our purpose is to connect and help other people. When we start to realise that we’re here for others and not ourselves. When we start to realise that we’re here to set others up for success. We get joy out of bringing joy to others and not from the things we own or the destinations we dream of.
So, let’s connect, let’s contribute and let’s make this world a better place for everyone. That’s something worthwhile to hope for, isn’t it?