Dream On: Cultivating Happiness through Fulfilled Dreams
Happiness is a Result of Fulfilled Dreams.
What do you dream of? Are they in service to you, or a hinderance to your life? If they are a hindrance, what steps can you take to transition them to serve you in a manner that cultivates happiness?
People have long been fascinated by dreams. The symbols, the themes, the meanings, and even the absurdities created by the production company located in our head can be a source of amusement for some, or a source of horror for others. Their themes can foretell bitter sweet endings, or can show us the road to new beginnings. They can remind us of events, loved ones, or memories long since forgotten, or they can come in the form of predictive premonitions that help us move forward in life. Whatever the feeling state behind the dream’s message, one thing is for certain, dreaming sets the tone for the deep psychological work needed to cultivate a life fulfilled by happiness.
In order to understand the power dreams have on our life, we must first understand the the way dreams effect our psychological growth.Sigmund Freud (1900) identified the dream as the royal road to the unconscious. In psychoanalysis and analytical traditions of psychology, the dream is viewed as the catalyst from which we can engage problematic themes of the past, allowing us to develop intimate knowledge of our current circumstances in a manner that allows for emotional healing. By developing a new and accepting relationship to the past, we can move on to the present moment, free of our past baggage, and pursue a means to an end we wish to create. The power of dreams within this context frees us to explore new ways to relate with ourselves and others in a manner that promotes deep psychological growth through catharsis of the problematic themes that formerly afflicted our lives.
Freud knew the power dreams have to unlock inner dynamics of growth through self-understanding. He created psychoanalysis based upon understanding how dreams affect our everyday emotional states. This work was continued in the works of Carl Jung, who believed that dreams have the power to unlock themes of deep unconscious growth, allowing us to realize Self, a supra ordinate from of identity that exists beyond the bounds of ego identity most commonly associated with adult life.
Carl Jung showed that dreams help us overcome the tensions caused by the paradoxical themes the psyche produces. By looking at the dream as a function of Self development, Jung moved beyond Freud’s tendency towards reductive science, viewed the symbol within the dream as a single representation of a psychological indicator, and developed a dynamic view of the psyche as growing through a process of mending the inner tension present within the psyche. Jung (1966) writes “I realized that the dreams were not just fantasies, but self-representations of unconscious developments which allowed the psyche of the patient gradually to grow out of the pointless personal tie” (p. 134). By removing the “pointless personal tie” from the emotional conflict present within the dream, we can move beyond the idea of the dream as being a fantasy and engage the symbolic aspects of dream symbol as a catalyst for psychological change and emotional growth. In this example, dreams are a starting point for emotional and psychological growth.
With a basic idea of how dreams work to promote psychological balance and growth within our life, lets now turn our focus to the ways we can harness the power of dreams to achieve the results we want.
When most people think of dreams, they think of the nighttime production that plays out as a movie in their head. While these dreams have many uses for our everyday life, including their ability to clue us in on areas where we may be stuck psychologically, there are other dreams that are equally as powerful when it comes to their potential for Self growth. These dreams occur in relationship to the perspective we assume towards our personal development, and are dependent on whether we are more past focused, present focused, or future oriented.
From a psychological standpoint, dreams act as parallel perspective from which we can engage life. If we are focused primarily on the past, dreams can act as a catalyst from which past experiences can be given a present voice, so that emotional health can be attained by changing our relationship to past events that plague our current circumstances. In this circumstance, dreams clue us in to areas that are emotionally repressed and allow us inroads into the problematic areas that afflict our life. This brings us to the present moment, where a world of Self possibility can find its place, and action in the here and now can lead to a life of fulfilled happiness.
The secondary aspect of dreaming encapsulates being in the heart of the moment. It is in this state of being, where the past no longer acts as baggage, because we have changed our relationship to it, a place where the future can be filled with possibilities. By being in the here and the now, we can free up time, which in turn will affect our capacity to focus on the steps needed to fulfill the dreams we seek. Major self-introspection movements, including Buddhism, contemplative meditation philosophies, and major religious traditions all prescribe to practices of self inquiry within the present moment to help us make sense of what was, so that we can move onto what will become. As the author’s of best selling book The Secret report, “Ask, Dream, and Receive.” However, the receipt has to be in the present moment, and we must feel the necessary feelings of gratitude needed to realize dreams we seek.
The final perspective from which dreams work is to provide us a glimpse for our future. Dreams are a gateway to worlds of possibility not yet lived. This is where the world of possibility meets the world of lived action. By dreaming life forward, we engage Self-development through realizing the aspirations we once sought. This is where future meets the present tense, and what was once only envisioned, becomes the reality of the life we create.
When engaging dreams, it is imperative to utilize them as a service for the life you envision and not a hinderance. Freud knew the power of dreams, and created an entire psychology around understanding the powers they unlock for self-development. Jung, in turn, developed analytical psychology around the power dreams have to help people unlock their hidden conflicts, overcome personal barriers, and develop deep, and insightful understanding of the psychological growth possible within life. By changing our relationship to the past, we can focus energies on the present, which can make those dreams one day become a reality.
What are your dreams? Have you used them lately to realize the aspirations you seek?
Byrne, R. (2007). The secret. Atria Books.
Freud, S. (1900). The interpretation of dreams. S.E., 4-5.
Jung, C.G. (1966). Two essays on analytical psychology. Princeton University Press.