It’s other people who are ‘living the dream’, not me. It’s watching the way they do things, spend their time and the success they’ve had that spurs me on. I want it. If only I had their life, then I’d be happy. They don’t know how lucky they are.
I imagine you’ve probably experienced something akin to this at some point(s) in your life. Looking at the way other people live and envying it slightly. It might be their job, personality, family, home, car, gadgets, money, partner, character, contacts, talents, hobbies, a mixture of all these, or something else entirely, but whenever you see them you say or think ‘man, you are living the dream’.
And maybe they are. What can we possibly mean by living the dream and can we recognise when we are already actually living ours?
Living the Dream is an Attainable State of Mind
1. It’s not a way of life
It’s easy to get caught up in the belief that our dreams have to do with having stuff, or living a particular lifestyle. They don’t. Living the dream is to do with freedom and choice. If I have a swimming pool in my back yard it might be a living dream but equally it might be a living nightmare.
If I have the money and time to maintain it and I have gone swimming every day since I was 6, then this may well be a dream. It brings freedom because it means I no longer have to get myself ready, travel to the local pool during the right hours, pay for it, and have to swim alongside loads of other people.
But on the flipside, if I’m not that bothered about having a pool it would be an expensive and time consuming nightmare. I don’t have freedom and choice – it is a burden and a trap, especially if I have to maintain it.
It’s not the pool itself but rather what the pool allows me to do (or inhibits me from doing) that is the important factor.
To create the margin and personal freedom necessary to ‘live your dream’ you need to make a choice. You don’t just stumble into it. One of my key dreams is time-flexibility (no, not the ability to bend time although that would be fun). To be able to make a living outside of the 9-5, working for a boss in the traditional sense, paradigm.
I want to be able to balance all of my varied projects, make enough money to meet our needs, and have time to respond spontaneously to the needs of certain people around me. This is something that I have had to make the choice to pursue, it didn’t just happen. And it’s not for everyone. I am highly self-motivated and can put myself to work, but there are other people who need others around them, a ‘stable’ income (I’m not sure there really is such a thing anymore), and a boss in the vicinity to motivate them.
Self-Employment and freelancing is a living dream for some, a living nightmare for others.
You’re living the dream when you believe you’re living the dream. To live the dream means taking something from the future; ‘the dream’, and combining it with something in the present; ‘living’. So to ‘live’ the ‘dream’ means to see the future in the present from the past.
What is happening in your life today that in the past you could only dream of?
There are many areas in my life where I’m not where I’d maybe like to be, but that doesn’t make me unhappy or impatient. And it doesn’t mean that I’m not living the dream. I guess I’m on the right path (seeing the future in the present from my past), and I am grateful for where I am and those people and circumstances around me.
If you find yourself oriented outwards, looking at other people and thinking that they are living the dream, then chances are you are missing your own dream. The key is gratitude. How much of what is around you is actually enough? What more do you need to ‘live the dream’? Are you lying to yourself about what will really make you happy? Are you deflecting to the future the things that you need to confront today, and displacing your dreams into the perpetual accumulation of money, objects and experiences?