Why adults have forgotten how to dream
What did you want to do with your life when you were a teenager? What did you believe in? And when did you stop dreaming big? Why we aren't naive when we long for a better world and a happier life.
Only naive people have big dreams
My mother once said that she believes that adults lose the ability to dream big. And how beautiful she thinks it is, how limitless the ideas that young people have about life.
This statement made me happy and sad at the same time. Happy because I am also a young person who dreams big and so I could identify with the statement. Sad because I didn't want her to be right. That day I vowed to never become like that, to keep dreaming and believing in big things. I didn't care about being labeled as “naive”.
I have always had a problem with the pessimistic, colorless and joyless world of many adults. Why do so many adults believe that nothing is possible? That it's normal for work not to be fun? That positive thinkers are idiots who have never been faced with a serious problem?
Yes, well, of course "older" people have more life experience and have already experienced one or two situations that I haven't had to deal with yet.
But isn't it the case that our idea of the world is not based on our experiences per se but on how we value and assess these experiences?
After all, there are people who were exposed to the same drastic and perhaps traumatizing situation; but whose lives were influenced by this experience in very different ways.
A prince and a psychologist
Viktor Frankl, the Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist, describes exactly this in his book “... Still Saying Yes to Life: A Psychologist Experiences the Concentration Camp”. Like many others, he had to experience pure horror. During and after his time in the concentration camp, he thought about meaning and the creation of meaning and came to the conclusion that between an experience and one's own reaction to this experience there is always one's own evaluation of the experience - no matter how much can be taken away from a person, Every person has the freedom to evaluate their own experiences. Albert Ellis also describes this principle in his “ABC theory”.
Back to the drastic experiences we talked about above: Our often learned, automatic and unconscious evaluation of these events creates beliefs about how the world works. We see and set limits, see limitations – or opportunities and possibilities.
Anyone who manages to create the necessary space for conscious evaluation between a stimulus and the reaction that follows it has a lot of options. In this way we can direct our own thoughts, rewire neurons and work on our mindset.
The Little Prince (from the story “The Little Prince” by the French author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry) also observes a clear difference between his own view of the world and the adult view of how things should be or run. He approaches things without expectations, is open to all experiences and is therefore able to form his own opinion. This attitude rubs off on the narrator, who dares to believe in certain things again and finally sees the world again from a more childlike perspective full of trust, openness and creativity.
I'll hold on to it as long as I can
The insights from the books mentioned have stuck in my head. I keep reminding myself that it's okay to dream. That it is even important to dream. Having goals, a positive outlook for the future. Expectations, even if they are not always met. To believe in the good and to go through life with the feeling that you have all the possibilities if you just work towards them.
Maybe one day I'll think differently about this topic. Maybe at some point my belief in big dreams, in chances, possibilities and a good world will dry up. But when that day comes, I will know that this belief comes from an experience that I evaluated in a certain way. And then I will do everything I can to revise this rating. Starting with thinking more like a child again.
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