We just re-watched The Greatest Showman with my two boys last weekend, and I was struck by a line spoken by Hugh Jackman, who plays P.T. Barnum. He said, “Hyperbole isn’t the worst crime. Men suffer more from imagining too little than too much.” I think this is true.
I’ve soothed myself to sleep for years by adding detail upon detail to personal dreams that have become like old friends. Some of my dreams such as finding my soulmate, moving to a beautiful ranch setting by a creek, watching my sons grow up healthy and happy have already come true, and I no longer play those in my mental movie theater at night anymore. But I’ve created new ones about finishing a novel my mother started before she passed away, traveling the world interviewing people about courageous conversations for a wildly successful podcast, getting a standing ovation at my TEDTalk, or holding a grandchild or two in my arms. It no longer matters to me if all my dreams actually come true. I’ve recognized the multi-faceted benefits of just dreaming the dreams and letting them develop and basically run wild in my mind’s eye.
I imagine that every night I’m laying stones on a bridge between my imagination and reality. I’m in love with the art of dreaming and the ease and fun of it is literally enough of an upside to keep me coming back to the practice every night. It’s a huge bonus when some of them manifest into my real world in the light of day.
When I find myself worrying, I recognize that I’m still dreaming but in a negative mode and typically with negative results. This “negative dreaming” speeds up my heartrate, creates tension in my body, and keeps sleep at an unreachable distance. But I’ve practiced getting into the space of my delicious, positive dreams so much that I can flip the switch pretty quickly which settles my heart rate, relaxes my body, and brings the restorative sleep I need right to my mental doorstep.
What do you allow yourself to dream about with abandon? What places, circumstances, and alternative realities have you created that are so detailed and delicious you can feel you are walking within them. Or do you dream up worries, loss, scarcity, fearful circumstances, and scary places? We all know from experience that most of what we fear and worry about will never come to pass. This may also be true with our positive, beautiful, uplifting dreams but which dream would you rather spend your time within? And if you are powerful enough to conjure things that morph into your real world, all the better to have them be amazing.
This week don’t worry about the hyperbole in your dreams. Go wild. Have fun. Dream big. Add technicolor. Make it like the dream Olympics with you winning all the gold medals! Like P.T. Barnum warned, don’t dream too little; dream more than seems sensible. And like Les Brown said, “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”
“So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable.”
~ Christopher Reeve.