When I went to the WWU health centre yesterday to see my psychiatrist, the receptionist who checked me in gave me some unsolicited advice:

"Take joy in the little things," Paula told me, happy that I was five minutes early for my appointment. "If you build up the little bits of happiness every day, it grows incrementally, like a savings account. Eventually you have a big bank of happiness, and you can let the bad stuff roll off of you much easier."

I smiled at her advice, amused that my being early (for a change) made her so happy.

"And let me tell you what I always tell my kids," she went on. "Every morning, first thing, look in the mirror, and decide if today is going to be a good day, or a bad day. Because the choice to be happy is ultimately yours."

I sincerely thanked her for the advice, and you know what? This morning, I did exactly what she advised. I looked in the mirror, and decided today is going to be a happy day -- after all, there's a big joy in my life today: Having fought tooth and nail to get back in school, I'm starting my next-to-last quarter today!

Heck, who needs psychiatrists when you have receptionists dispensing advice like that?
THE DREAM:
I dreamed last night that I was at some sort of sporting event with my family (odd, because my family doesn't do sporting events). We were in a large stadium, and there was some sort of drawing for door prizes. Then a special prize was awarded -- one of the sections of the stadium would get a "big prize" award -- and it turned out to be our section! Everyone in our section would get to go to the special "big prize" gift shop and choose one item. We were all very excited.

As we walked en masses up the stairs to the gift shop, we discussed what it was we would choose.

"Well, just remember," someone said, "we have to be able to fit everything into the car!"

We arrived at the gift shop. My sister had her eye on a new bicycle, and took it immediately. My brother took an huge set of Star Wars action figures in a giant Star Destroyer carrying case. Mom grabbed something (I didn't see what) and left.

And me... I just stood there, overwhelmed. So many choices.

I couldn't decide! Was there anything in here I really needed? (not really) Was there anything I absolutely wanted? (Sure, there were things that were cool, but did I really *want* them?)

I was able to determine that just about everything in the "big prize" gift shop had a retail value of about $1,000. So it occurred to me, I could sell my item on ebay, and take the cash.

But that didn't even help. So many things, and absolutely nothing that jumped out at me. Other people came and went, happily carting out their prizes... but not me. I examined everything. Weighed the possibilities. (The Star Wars action figures had resale value, but I couldn't open them, because Mint-In-Box is more valuable. The 4-foot-tall ivory Nutcracker would sell, as we're getting close to Christmas, but isn't ivory immoral? Hmmm, there's a fundraising kit, but that didn't seem like much fun. Nice wall clock...)

The store clerks were starting to get impatient with me, because I wouldn't choose. Everyone was waiting for me. What to take, what to take....

...and then I woke up.

INTERPRETATION:
There's a couple of things about my personality that I think this dream reveals.

First, is that I'm not especially materialistic. Contrary to what our culture teaches is valuable, I'm not a hoarder of stuff. The fact that I wasn't going to just impulse take something that seemed cool to own is not far from the reality in my own life. I like nice things, but I don't tend to buy things unless I *really* want it, or I *really* need it. I'm constantly getting rid of things in my own life, because too many things just clutters up my life. If I don't actually need it, or if it doesn't bring me a very high level of enjoyment, I don't buy it. In some ways, I am a marketer's worst nightmare, because I don't have to have it just because it's cool.

Second, I am aware that research has shown that too many choices can actually make people unhappy.
I know I can be that way. I get paralyzed with indecision in my own life, because there is so much available to me in my own life.

I especially see this in how it relates to my many gifts and talents. I have had the hardest time settling on a major/career. In my DVR class, we've been exploring strengths, and I have so many, I can't decide. I can do so many things well, I've never been able to settle on just one to fully develop. I get bored, I don't stick with develping any one talent or skill, and I have ended up becoming a true jack-of-all-trades, master of none. Aside from the fact that I just don't particularly want to work, this has actually been a major problem in my life. I can't choose what I want to do!

The fact that I was starting to judge things based on their resale value also reflects an entrepenurial streak. I have been selling stuff on ebay for years (never made much money at it). My judgement of the stuff in the dream stopped being about what value it held for me and satisfying my own desires (since nothing was doing that), and started being about what I could sell to others, to fill others' desires.
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