Self Help Now: A community blog

Dr. Jacqueline B. Sallade offers ideas for maintaining your mental health.

Dreams, Wishes and Goals

Written by Dr. Jacqueline B. Sallade, Community blogger | Dec 14, 2013 6:22 PM

Maybe it's the season or just my interest in individuality, but I've been noticing the kind of dreams and goals people have lately, patients, friends, media people, anyone. Here are some types which prevail in abundance.

1. The Walter Mitty dream, so-named after a story by James Thurber which my generation studied in 10th grade in which an ordinary guy has big fantasies of fame and glory. For example, I dream of ending obesity in America, and I've been told to write and lecture about it. I do. Notice any improvement? A common dream of this sort is rescuing people, like saving all the babies after a plane just crashed, talking leaders or protesters into peace in war-torn countries, or making polluters stop. Little PR efforts and acts of kindness seem to work better but the dreams feel so great...

2. The future life or retirement dream, common among people in their 50's and 60's. My former associate wanted to spend his last 30 years writing books and he's doing it well. My younger collegue dreams of a simpler life in a warmer climate doing his music a lot and working with happy people on wellness. It may happen.

3. The dream of career or financial success, such as becoming employee of the month, teacher of the year, president of the company, a Ph.D. or M.D., director or producer of a good film, making a lot of money as a sales person, curing a disease or making some other scientific or artistic breakthrough. Even when these dreams are  unrealistic, the effort in the right direction isn't. I know a high school kid who wants to go to college who is reading at the sixth grade level. She won't do college, as far as I can tell, but her compromise will be to do something useful, I hope. Another kid I know failed academia and will be a great diesel mechanic. Two senior citizens I know started art careers lately and are on their way to success.

4. The dream of luck, such as winning the lottery or a gambling endeavor. Good luck! The fantasy is fun, though.

5. The dream of love, like the spouse in a difficult marriage wishing the dynamics would change, the internet dater hoping the next date turn out to be "the one,"  the lonely single divorced person daydreaming about the ideal person coming along or becoming available. These dreams come true more often when the wisher is, also, a giver and changer, rather than an expecter and taker. I remember someone who wanted to be "cherished" but wasn't willing to provide unconditional love in the midst of stressful times. She didn't get her wish.

6. The bucket list dreams, which range widely and may include places to see, things to own, events to attend, jobs and hobbies to pursue and people to know. Some bucket list items can be quite modest, as my friend who wanted to see Ground Zero. That was an easy one to give her. Then, there are others which are possible but less convenient, like mine to see Israel, and I'm making arrangements already for April. However, some bucket list items may not happen and usually get revised before it's too late. I know someone who wants to do volunteer work abroad but may not be capable physically, so he may help others get there.

What kinds of dreams do you have?

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