June is often a month of picnics, BBQs, festivals and the summer solstice. For many people June is also a month of exams, endings and thinking about the future.
For all these reasons it’s fitting that our theme this month is “Your Big Dream”.
The title often provokes strong reactions which range from apprehension to excitement. It is an undeniably big question and one which is worth revisiting from time to time.
If you ask children about their hopes and dreams for the future, they think BIG. They’re not limited by reality or convention (that comes later).
When I was about six years old someone asked “what do you want to be when you’re older?”. The answer was obvious to me – “happy” I replied.
My response prompted them to smile before steering the conversation to the more tangible topic of jobs. Eager to please (and make them happy) I went on to say how I liked animals and enjoyed helping people. Clearly this was a much more satisfactory answer as they stated, “oh you’ll be a nurse or a vet then”, and the conversation ended.
At different crossroads of my life I have thought about my goals and dreams. I never did become a nurse or a vet and for a long time I wasn’t particularly happy either.
At Fresh Air Fridays we are playful in our enquiry of our Big Dreams. We imagine how our lives might be if we had a magic wand or wishes granted by a genie. Once we know some of the things we would do, have or be we delve deeper to discover our “why”.
Reflecting now, as a parent of my very own six year old, I realise that happiness is a tricky destination to reach, much like finding the end of a rainbow. In considering this I remembered watching a TED Talk about the elusive goal of happiness.
Emily Esfahani Smith talked about having meaning in life as opposed to being happy; stating that happiness is about feeling good in the moment whereas having meaning is ultimately deeper and more fulfilling. In her talk Emily shares what she believes are the four pillars for a meaningful life. If you have 12 minutes to spare it is well worth watching.
I do still want to be happy and when I ask myself “why, what would that give me?” as we do on our Fresh Air Fridays sessions, my answer is joy and contentment. For others their “why” may be more about security, connection, love.
Reflecting on where I am now in my life I am fortunate to be doing what I enjoy, and I have what I want and need. Yet I notice I am not as joyful as I would like to be. There is so much joy already in my life and yet in many moments I don’t allow myself to feel it.
So, my action moving forward is to relax, lighten up and be joyful whenever possible. I also intend to re-read “Ice Cream for Breakfast” by Laura Jane Williams which is all about rediscovering a sense of childlike playfulness and joy.
Gaining insight in this way enables us to consciously make choices that bring our dreams closer. It also enables us to see where we have elements of our dreams in our lives already. Using the crossroads metaphor, it is about looking up and taking in our surroundings, checking our compass and redefining our course. The more often we do this, the closer we will be to the most direct route to our dreams.
The invitation here is to play with the idea of “Your Big Dream” and have fun. Reminisce about the dreams your younger self had; travelling the world, writing a book, visiting those places, meeting those people, doing those things. Write a bucket list if that appeals to you.
Whatever you do, make sure you take time to pause for breath, look at the view, see how far you have already come and then choose which way you want to go next.
“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” – C S Lewis
Experience the joy of Fresh Air Fridays for yourself by attending one of our sessions – visit the For You page to find out more.
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The indispensable first step to getting the things you want out of life is this: decide what you wantBen Stein