Alan Watts on Dreaming a Lifetime (Why Life is Beautiful)

When I find myself in turbulent times, I often wish that life would go a little more my way - that it would bring fewer surprises or that there wouldn't be so many stones in your path. However, it is precisely these stones, or rather the removal of these stones, that one grows from.

Alan Watts once presented an interesting thought experiment, which I will cover in this article. Watts said that you should play with the idea of living a completely predictable life and whether that is really what you want.

He asked to imagine every night to dream a life of 70 years or more. Of course, at the beginning of these dreams you would fulfill all your desires, you would live through every kind of pleasure. But after several nights of living through 70 years of pleasure, you would start to think: "That was quite nice, but how about a little surprise? It might be time to dream something that I don't completely control."

So that something happens to you, of which you do not know exactly what it is and how it will affect. Then, when you wake up from such a dream, you think to yourself that it was close and adventurous, but it was also much more vivid and beautiful. Over time, you would become more and more adventurous and take greater and greater risks. In the final stage of this mind game, you would dream the dream of living the life you are actually living today, and all this while having endless possibilities to dream anything you can imagine.

Personally, I find this a particularly successful thought experiment because I see myself in it. And you might feel the same way. Of course, we would all dream everything at the beginning, what we would find beautiful and good. However, I also believe that it can get boring very quickly to always get what you want without making an effort.

If we are not exposed to challenges, we cannot outgrow ourselves. Therefore, the next time things don't go your way, remember that the inconveniences will help you become the best version of yourself.

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