If anyone ever needed proof that human beings are creative, all they would have to do is fall asleep.
Every night when our heads hit the pillow and our eyes shut, we dream. Our brains become the directors of these interactive movies, and we get to be the star.
We experience our dreams as exhilarating, scary, funny, and sometimes even strange.
Actually, that makes them A LOT like the movies we watch at the theater!
How We Dream
The difference is dreams aren't created in Hollywood. They are created by our subconscious minds.
While there is not a lot of definitive science on how we dream, a study done by a group of French researchers in 2013 suggests that dreaming is generated by the brainstem: the part of the nervous system that connects the spinal cord to the brain itself. They did find however that more complex or creative dreams do require higher-order processes. For example, if you have a dream where your dog is talking to you and then takes you to a dog kingdom full of talking dogs.
Actually... that sounds like an awesome movie!
Regardless of how we dream, a more interesting question to ponder is...
Why We Dream
There are a few theories out there on why we dream.
1. Dreams Act As Therapy.
Dreams often bring up our negative emotions and negative events that are happening in our life that may be hard for us to face in waking life. When we face an event like this in our dreams, our brain doesn't know that it's not real. The exploration of the issue might even allow us to dig to the root of what's really going on.
2. Dreams Let You Deal with Threats in a Safe Way.
You might never fight a bear in real life. In fact I would recommend you NEVER fight a bear in real life! In a dream, you might have the opportunity though. Again, your brain can't tell the difference between what's real and what's a dream. Fighting a bear in a dream may give you confidence in waking life and sharpen your fight-or-flight sense if you ever do find yourself in a precarious situation.
3. Dreams Allow You to Practice a Skill.
You might want to be a rock star or President of the United States. Whatever it is, dreams give you the opportunity to practice being on stage or giving a speech or anything else. (If you really want to dive deeper into this, learning how to lucid dream could change your life!)
4. Dreams Let You Get Creative.
Dreams are an amazing way to come up with new ideas! I once had a vivid dream that was so scary, but when I woke up I realized I just dreamt a script for a whole horror movie! I unfortunately was the main actor in the film... But taking the perspective of being the writer and director of the film as well allowed me to not only not be afraid of it but be empowered and emboldened creatively by the dream!
5. Dreams Declutter Your Brain.
Some think that dreams are just a way for your brain to sift through the important and unimportant information lying around. Essentially, it's your brain's way of "taking out the trash" when the garbage can is overflowing.
We may not be sure of how or why we dream, but we now have a few theories for both!
I believe we create our own meaning in our lives and therefore also our dreams. Nightmares are nothing to fear! Just as challenging situations in our lives are nothing to fear! They are all moments and experiences for us to learn and grow.
And if you don't believe me, why not try giving it a shot? Do it for yourself, but also for your kids (if you have them!) This mindset will empower you and your kids to embrace your creativity and face your fears head on which are both valuable skills in Life.
So, dream on.