3 Little-Known Reasons To Follow Your Dreams
There is an old Irish myth retold by Dr. Joseph Campbell about a hideous old woman who guards a well, and a group of brothers who are thirsty. One of the brothers asks the old woman if he can drink from her well. She bargains that she will let him for a kiss on the cheek. Appalled, he declines, and he informs his brothers of their dilemma. None of the other brothers were willing to kiss her, so they could not quench their thirst. But one brother eventually kisses her and hugs her; and when that happens, she is turned into the most beautiful woman. In that moment, in Campbell’s book The Hero with a Thousand Faces, the woman says: “And as at first thou hast seen me ugly, brutish, loathly – in the end, beautiful – even so is royal rule.” (2008, p. 98).
Dr. Campbell states that following our dreams in life is a loathsome idea until we are willing to “kiss” or take on the risks and challenges that are inherently woven into the pursuit of our dreams.
In his book The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Dr. Campbell argues that all stories, even the simplest nursery tale, is rich in meaning in the same way that “the flavor of an ocean is contained in a droplet” (2008, p. 1). Thus, no one should reject the idea of learning even from a simple and silly story. This story reveals just how people deny pursuing what they truly want. They allow their fears of what they don’t want to overtake them; and they become unheroic and shortsighted. And being unable to take on the risks, they end up missing out on the good which that suffering, when it is channeled correctly, would produce. So, decisively, here are the 3 hidden reasons that justify the pursuit of your dreams:
1. A Scientific suggestion
Neurologist Viktor Frankl in his book Man’s Search for Meaning describes a certain kind therapy, called logo-therapy, which ultimately means “meaning-therapy” as a cure to the nihilism and depression that comes from buying into the idea that life is meaningless.
Logotherapy is neither pursuing pleasure nor power. Rather, it is about redirecting humanity to fulfill a deep meaning, hidden in them, that is uniquely assigned to them. It is just waiting to be acknowledged by them. It is precisely this drive of inner meaning that makes one capable of bearing many hardships. This purposeful life, however, will come at a price. It is neither pleasant nor smooth. Rather, it will lead you to a thrust of many woes. These woes, Dr. Frankl argues, are actually much better for your mental health in comparison to complacency. Indeed, complacency breeds idleness, and idleness breeds meaninglessness; and what is meaninglessness but a sense of depression and hopelessness in all things?
2. The truth will set you free
Some people tend to criticize Dr. Frankl’s ideas. They believe that just because something is good for you does not imply that it is true, and that the truth is often bad for your wellbeing. Here is why that is not the case. The truth may harm you in the short term, but it will always benefit you in the long term. Likewise, the lie may be sweet and benefit you in the short term, but it will ultimately harm you in the long term. Consider, for instance, a scenario where a woman was lied to by her cheating boyfriend. If her boyfriend lies to her, convinces her of his love, it will temporarily benefit her state of mind. But in the end, she will feel the unfruitful result of being with someone who does not love her. She will ultimately find out that she is missing the real love she deserves. This lie brought her short-term benefit and long-term harm.
On the other hand, if the cheating boyfriend told her that he never loved her, it would cause her pain. But that pain will cause her to realize something. She will move on, and eventually she will find someone who can truly love her, or she can be with herself in a whole way rather than being with someone that does not love her.
You can apply this model to any situation which ultimately proves that all circumstances follow patterns, like stories. Decisively, all lies may benefit you in the short-term, but harm you in the long-term. Likewise, the truth may harm you in the short-term, but it will benefit you in the long-term. Thus, the truth will always benefit you. It is a source of a fresh spring, which provides nourishment if you decide to drink from its source. Meanwhile the lie is the source of a poisonous stream which will destroy even the good in you, if you decide to drink from its source. Thus, we must be cautious so as to never trust lies. This requires discernment and I believe this model can help with discerning lies.
3. The myth of the hero
Dr. Joseph Campbell highlighted the truth that all myths, all fables, all stories (whether real or fictional) follow a pattern. This pattern is called the hero’s journey. The hero starts off as a nobody, living in a remote place, unseen and unheard, and is the underdog typically. Then, the hero goes off on an undertaking, leaving family, friends and their hometown in search of the ways to become the desired professional of their career path. The hero struggles but learns. The hero never gives up though many have died in that self-same pursuit. The hero conquers all things in the end and returns to the homeland as a hero in contrast to the nobody the hero started off as.
Dr. Jordan Peterson highlighted that there is a reason why certain blockbuster films and specific literary works are popular in the cult-like way that they are. The reason is because our subconscious mind can intuitively understand that those stories are actually about us, about our potential to be great if we start living meaningful lives. They are also about the struggles we face if we live meaningful lives; but about the constant joy that is inherent in the pursuit of our dreams, a constant joy that even our struggles cannot diminish.
All stories, and perennial myths (as well as dreams) come from the subconscious mind, which is a reservoir of ancient human wisdom. The best part about this wisdom, is that it is inclusive; it exists in all of us. It is in every human being from every culture, but only on the subconscious level, so we are not aware of it. This is why we can trust our intuition, at times, for answers.
Now it is important to note one thing. Dr. Joseph Campbell says that it is neither by force (or hype) nor by repulsion (or fear) that you can accomplish your dreams. It is the approach of the only brother who dared kiss the old woman. It is the approach of the gentle heart. A gentle understanding of the burdens that come with this meaningful lifestyle and a patience that endures till the end. We all had dreams when we were children, but just as we grew out of toys, we also grew out of them. There are dreams, however, that are meant for us. These we may find when we are adults, and we are not meant to grow out of these.
Thus, there is a 4th hidden reason why you should pursue your dreams. This reason is encapsulated in all the 3 reasons, each of which ultimately conveys that you must pursue your dreams because you were meant to.
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