Are you killing your dreams?

Kant said that we require three things by which to measure happiness: someone to love, something we like to do, and something to look forward to.*

Look closely at this statement, and you’ll realize that most people have someone to love and something that they like to do, it’s the something to look forward to that we sometimes forget .

When we ignore our dreams, our life feels withered and empty

I know, I forgot about it too, recently. Life goes along smoothly…we work, spend time with family, meet up with friends…life has a steady rhythm and we don’t do much to shake it up…happy to maintain the status quo…not realizing that we just might be killing our dreams in the process.

Paulo Coelho

Image via Wikipedia

So, how do you know if you’re exactly where you need to be right now, or if you need to challenge the status quo? I got the answer to this question by chance, just when I needed to hear it the most, as I was scrolling through my Twitter steam. “Killing our dreams: the three symptoms” flashed out at me that day – an article by the master himself, Paulo Coelho.

The first symptom is the lack of time. Ever looked at those super busy people and wondered how they find the time to fit so much into their day? They’re living their dream. It’s those of us who say we’re too busy to do this or that who are actually shying away from fighting for what we believe in.

The second symptom is our certainties – a false belief that we are being wise by not demanding more from life. When we look at others striving hard to achieve their dreams, we choose to retreat into our own daily existence, not realizing that the fight is what excites and rejuvenates.

Angel of Death Also Dreams

Image by Yuliya Libkina via Flickr

The final symptom is complacency. Since we’re satisfied with the way our life is going, we get comfortable in our daily routine. We brush our grand dreams under the carpet, believing we are “mature” in seeking only professional and personal development, and are surprised when we hear others saying they want still more in life.

When we renounce our dreams, we go through a short period of tranquility because we buy into the illusion of comfort. But our dead dreams begin to rot within us and to infect our entire being. We become cruel to those around us, and then we begin to direct this cruelty against ourselves. That’s when illnesses and psychosis arise. What we sought to avoid in fighting for our dreams – disappointment and defeat – come upon us because of our cowardice.

And these don’t even have to be really big dreams. They could be small ones too.

I always wanted to have a vase of fresh flowers at home. It makes the entire room just come alive, doesn’t it? But as time went by and life got busy, I found myself waiting for those special occasions when the hubby would bring me flowers, and that dream of always having fresh flowers fell by the wayside.

But recently, I’ve picked that dream up and dusted it off, examined it and decided that it isn’t something that I want to give up on. So, I have decided that I will buy fresh flowers every week during the winter and monsoon months. It’s rather pointless to bother is summer, because flowers just wilt away in a day.  Here’s the bunch of blooms I bought myself this week – pretty, aren’t they?

Sit down and ask yourself: what are your dreams? Are you living them, pursuing them, or have you given up on them?

* Thanks to the Designer Wife for sparking this idea with her post on Measuring happiness

Posted in Soulful living and tagged , , , , , , .

I’m an artist and art educator, podcaster, tarot reader, and writer. I share my discoveries along the path to inspire you to live a more creative, soul-centered life. Receive my love letters for more of my musings on life and creativity. P.S. I love Instagram - join me there?


  1. love this! i know we all get bogged down with “life” and our day to day things, i truly believe in dreams and love that you bought yourself flowers as part of something you dreamed for yourself.. i have a friend who has a “bucket list” and i used to think it was creepy but now i think it is a wonderful way to honor your dreams and check them off as we go through this thing called “life”
    shelley 🙂

    • Oh yes! I’ve been doing a bucket list since school – a list of things to do before I turn a certain age – only, at that time it wasn’t really called a bucket list! 😉

  2. As I sit here pondering your post, it comes to me that I owe you a “thank you”. I am all of the people you mentioned and therefore, your post touched me. It inspired me to “wake up” and start living. I have dreams..some mighty big ones and it’s time I started living towards them.
    Thank you for inspiring me through your writing and your wisdom!

    • You’re welcome Julee! I’m a pilgrim on the same path. I walk, stumble, fall, pick myself up and walk again. That I could inspire someone is truly heartwarming! All the best living your dreams. Go out and work towards them, girl! And remember, it’s the fight that counts!

  3. I love this post! I find myself surrounded by people who are complacent – they tend to just sap the energy from those around them. Our family motto is “Never Give Up, Never Surrender” 🙂
    Thanks for a great post & helping to renew my determination 🙂

  4. This is a fantastic post.

    I had a very *real* loss of dreams moment in my life that will always stick with me to remind me of their importance in my happiness as an individual. I, like all of us, I guess, NEED something to look forward to.

    From the moment I entered school, I loved it. My father was a school teacher, so I really couldn’t wait to get to “school” to see what the heck it was that stole this joyful man from my life for at least six hours every day, except during summer. Once I got there, I understood. There were colors, chalkboards, blocks, friends, books, and learning… so, so much learning. There was something new every day. The grown-ups in school, the “teachers” were just as cool as my dad, just as smart, just as fun and I loved them. I wanted to BE one of them when I grew up.

    I looked forward to that. I nurtured that. It was all I knew.

    My father died when I was 12. It was OK, I could still make him proud. I still knew where to find him – he was at school. I was going to be a teacher… This was my happiness through the grief.

    And then, at 21 years old, right out of college. I did it. I became a teacher. It was amazing. I did it the fastest way I could. I made it. I had a class of my own. I would be in school forever as I had always dreamed. I was happy. Really, I was ecstatic.

    Then one day I felt an emptiness that scared me. *What now??*

    I had nothing to look forward to. I hadn’t realized how important that was. Becoming a teacher was important, incredibly so, in fact, but when I reached my stars, when I realized my dream, I actually also stole my only dream away!

    It took me a little while to realize what you posted here, “And these don’t even have to be really big dreams. They could be small ones too.” But thank God I did… because there really was never ever going to be anything as BIG as the teacher dream – that was decades in building – but small dreams… they are doable. Or maybe just small-ER.

    Again, great post!
    ~Nicole 🙂

    • Wow Nicole! I’m so happy that you achieved your biggest dream! The paradox, though, as you so rightly pointed out, is the feeling of emptiness that we get when we achieve one of our really big goals. Along with the immense joy and satisfaction, is the “what next?” Which is why it’s important to remember the smaller dreams that we may have set aside for later in pursuit of “THE” dream. Or, after achieving “THE” dream, maybe it’s time to sit down and ask yourself what you want next, and then go out and achieve that. The key is to always have something to aspire to. You can rest on your laurels for a while…but you need a dream to pursue to keep you enthused to meet life with joy.

  5. Great post! I completely agree with what you wrote; I think that we become complacent and passive in our own lives; we think about how nice it would be to do X, Y, Z but we don’t have the gusto to actually do it, to invest the time and the effort that it takes to pursue the dream (or dreams). I think that sometimes fear plays a role in this, particularly when you are older , so I guess it’s a matter of finding out passion (or re-finding it) and making the decision to pursue our dreams regardless of how busy we are, or what stands in our way.

    • And the decision to pursue our dreams requires self-motivation as well, and sometimes we lack that and need to figure out how to get it back on the horse, so to speak.

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