articles & news
Create a Balance Between Dreams and Habits
SEPTEMBER 2006 | One of the huge imbalances in life is the disparity between your daily existence, with its routines and habits, and the dream you have deep within yourself of some extraordinarily satisfying way of living. In the quote that opens this chapter, James Allen poetically explains that the dream is the magical realm out of which newly created life emerges. Buried within you is an unlimited capacity for creation, what Allen calls a waking angel that’s anxious to plant seedlings to fulfill your dreams and your destiny. I simply couldn’t resist adding the Ernest Holmes quote describing this dynamic imagination as “fire from heaven.” They’re both appropriate invitations and reminders that you need to tend to that burning fire, the dream within you, if living a balanced life is important.
How This Imbalance Shows Up in Your Life
This absence of balance between dreams and habits may be very subtle. It doesn’t necessarily reveal itself in the obvious symptoms of heartburn, depression, illness, or anxiety—it’s more often something that feels like an unwelcome companion by your side, which continually whispers to you that you’re ignoring something. There’s some often-unidentifiable task or experience that you sense is part of your beingness. It may seem intangible, but you can feel the longing to be what you’re intended to be. You sense that there’s a higher agenda; your way of life and your reason for life are out of balance. Until you pay attention, this subtle visitor will continue to prod you to regain your equilibrium.
Think of a balance scale with one side weighted down and the other side up, like a teeter-totter with an obese child on one end and a skinny kid on the other. In this case, the heavy end that tips the scale out of balance is the overweight kid representing your everyday behaviors: the work you do, the place where you reside, the people with whom you interact, your geographic location, the books you read, the movies you see, and the conversations that fill up your life. It’s not that any of these things are bad in and of themselves. The imbalance exists because they’re unhealthy for your particular life—they simply don’t mesh with what you’ve imagined yourself to be. When it’s unhealthy, it’s wrong, and on some level you feel that. When you live your life going through the motions, it may seem to be convenient, but the weight of your dissatisfaction creates a huge imbalance in the only life you have now.
You’re perplexed by the ever-present gnawing feeling of dissatisfaction that you can’t seem to shake, that pit-of-the-stomach sensation of emptiness. It shows up when you’re sound asleep and your dreams are filled with reminders of what you’d love to be, but you wake and return to pursuing your safe routine. Your dreams are also demanding your attention in waking life when you’re petulant and argumentative with others, because in actuality you’re so frustrated with yourself that you try to relieve the pressure by venting anger outward. Imbalance masquerades as a sense of frustration with your current lifestyle. If you allow yourself to think about this “fire from heaven,” you proceed to rationalize your status quo with explanations and mental meanderings that you know in your heart are excuses because you don’t think you have the tools to get in balance.
You may get to a point where you become increasingly hard on yourself and begin seeking medication and other treatment for feelings of inadequacy—and for what’s called depression. You’ll surely witness yourself feeling more and more angry and moody, with more frequent occurrences of minor afflictions such as colds, headaches, and insomnia. As time goes on in this state of imbalance, there’s less enthusiasm for what has become the drudgery of life. Work is now even more routine, with even less purpose and drive. These blahs begin appearing in your behavior toward your family and those you love. You’re easily agitated, picking on others for no apparent reason. If you’re able to be honest with yourself, you recognize that your irritability stems from being out of balance with the bigger dream you’ve always had, but which is now apparently slipping away.
When these subtle symptoms surface, it’s crucial to explore the kind of energy you’re giving to the scale to create balance—or in this case, imbalance. The heavy angst is weighing down your reason for being—but you are the only one who can rebalance this scale of your life. Here are some tools to help you return to a balanced life, beginning with recognizing the ways in which you may be sabotaging yourself.
Mental Energy That Makes The Manifestation of Your Dreams Possible
Your desire to be and live from greatness is an aspect of your spiritual energy. In order to create balance in this area of your life, you have to use the energy of your thoughts to harmonize with what you desire. Your mental energy attracts what you think about. Thoughts that pay homage to frustration will attract frustration. When you say or think anything resembling There’s nothing I can do; my life has spun out of control, and I’m trapped, that’s what you’ll attract—that is, resistance to your highest desires! Every thought of frustration is like purchasing a ticket for more frustration. Every thought that agrees that you’re stuck is asking the Universe to send you even more of that glue to keep you stuck.
The single most important tool to being in balance is knowing that you and you alone are responsible for the imbalance between what you dream your life is meant to be, and the daily habits that drain life from that dream. You can create a new alignment with your mental energy and instruct the Universe to send opportunities to correct this imbalance. When you do so, you discover that while the world of reality has its limits, the world of your imagination is without boundaries. Out of this boundless imagination comes the seedling of a reality that’s been crying out to be restored to a balanced environment.
Restoring the Balance
The objective of this principle is to create a balance between dreams and habits. The least complicated way to begin is to recognize the signs of habitual ways of being, and then learn to shift your thinking to being in balance with your dreams. So what are your dreams? What is it that lives within you that’s never gone away? What inner night-light continues to glow, even if it’s only a glimmer, in your thoughts and dreams? Whatever it is, however absurd it may seem to others, if you want to restore the balance between your dreams and your habits, you need to make a shift in the energy that you’re contributing to your dreams. If you’re out of balance, it’s primarily because you’ve energetically allowed your habits to define your life. Those habits, and the consequences thereof, are the result of the energy you’ve given them.
In the early stages of the rebalancing process, concentrate on this awareness: You get what you think about, whether you want it or not. Commit to thinking about what you want, rather than how impossible or difficult that dream may seem. Give your personal dreams a place to hang out on the balance scale so that you can see them in your imagination and they can soak up the energy they deserve. Thoughts are mental energy; they’re the currency that you have to attract what you desire. You must learn to stop spending that currency on thoughts you don’t want, even though you may feel compelled to continue your habitual behavior. Your body might continue, for a while, to stay where it’s been trained to be, but meanwhile, thoughts are being aligned with your dreams. The esteemed 19th-century writer Louisa May Alcott phrases this idea in an encouraging and inspiring manner:
I may not reach them, but I can look up and see the beauty,
believe in them and try to follow where they lead. . . .
Choosing to restore a semblance of balance between your dreams and your habits seems possible with Ms. Alcott’s phrases in mind: “look up and see,” and “believe in them.” The words bring to life an energetic alignment. Rather than putting your thoughts on what is, or what you’ve habitually thought for a lifetime, you shift to looking up and seeing, and firmly believing in what you see. When you begin to think in this manner, the Universe conspires to work with you, and sends you precisely what you’re thinking and believing. It doesn’t always happen instantaneously, but once the realignment is initiated in your thoughts, you’ve begun being in balance.
Reprinted with permission