The Difference Between Dreams & Desires

personal development May 25, 2022

Langston Hughes' poem Dreams was one of the few we encouraged our sons to memorize while homeschooling them.

Do you know it? Here it is.

Dreams, by Langston HughesHold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly. Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.

Dreams matter. They matter a lot.

Yet, our institutionalized educational and occupational systems talk very little about and rarely encourage dreams. Instead, they distract us with the craving for and pursuit of desires.

This is sad and a recipe for suffering.

Although we often conflate dreams and desires, the distinctions between the two make all the difference in terms of promoting our health and happiness.

Desire is the singular and selfish pursuit of a want.

On the other hand, a dream is a worthy cause we work toward in community.

Ironically, even when we achieve a desire, we feel empty and lacking and wanting more.

Interestingly,although we suspect our dreams are beyond our reach, we find the endeavor itself is its own reward—providing our lives with meaning, fulfillment, and joy regardless of result.

Martin Luther King Jr.'s I Have a Dream speech referenced a dream, not a desire, on purpose and for good reason. 

As a difference-maker, what are the aims you are pursuing? Which are desires? Which are dreams?

How might distinguishing between the two help you frame healthier choices and make better decisions about what you do next?

Scott Perry, Encore Life Coach at The Art of Encore Living

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