According to Don Miguel Ruiz, author of The Four Agreements, when we are awake "there is a material frame that makes us perceive things in a linear way. When we go to sleep we do not have this frame, this boundary, and the dream has a tendency to change constantly." Ancient Toltec wisdom on your ass.
Let's look into this. In a dream, all of reality's rules and laws are out the window. Impossible events are constantly occurring. We cannot predict what comes next. Nothing is tangible and anything can happen. Waking life, however, is governed by tangible things, but of these, what is necessary and what isn't? Shelter is essential for survival, along with whatever technology we need to obtain food and water. Without these we die. They are absolutely necessary. At the other extreme we have superficial objects, unnecessary things that we own or strive to own for reasons other than survival. While there is nothing wrong with owning things we don't need (I have a bunch), a problem does arise when we become dependent on them. While we can't depend on a gold chain or a Ferrari to nourish us, we can become convinced that they can make us happy. This convincing is not all that hard to do, just look at how advertising works:
In 30 seconds we are told that Focus equals victory, confidence, power, and even life. We see people competing and dancing, a man on a mountain top, and a happy woman swinging, smiling and jubilant. Each image is different from the next, the novelty making them easier to remember. The repetition convinces us that what we're being told is true. The advertisement ends with "5-HOUR ENERGY IS FOCUS." We have just been presented with the advertiser's version of the truth in the form of logic:
A = Focus
B = Victory/confidence/power/life/achievement/dancing/smiles
C = 5-Hour Energy
If we accept that A = B and A = C, on some level our brains learn to associate an energy drink with victory, confidence, so on and so forth. B must equal C. This doesn't just happen on TV screens, it happens on billboards, magazines, newspapers, and every time we see someone believing and acting on an advertiser's truth. It's not just energy drinks being sold, either. It's a certain look, a style, a way of life, a type of body, a brand of clothes or car. Becoming convinced that these things will make us happy and satisfy our needs narrows our pursuit of happiness to the pursuit of material goods. What do we need to buy things? Money. How do we make money? The most widely accepted method is to get a degree, maybe a few, a Masters, a PhD. Once we've decided on a career and invested money into pursuing it, we are much less likely to stray from this path. Changing majors costs money, costs time, regardless of whether or not a teenager has matured in adulthood and changed his or her mind. The cognitive dissonance staying the course creates is significant. So is the stress of changing one's mind.
But what if we devoted our time and resources into exploring our passions with disregard for how much money we would or wouldn't make? What if we gave more attention to cultivating our INTERESTS rather than hoarding STUFF? All of a sudden we become unbounded from society's arbitrary conventions. We would earn lasting satisfaction through doing what we love by rejecting the superficial quick-fix we get from accumulating more goods. Next year could have more in store for us than a predictable set of classes. Classes may not even be necessary. New avenues to success might arise in a most unexpected way. What once seemed impossible may now look very attainable. A world of opportunity would begin to unfold. It would be like waking up to a beautiful dream.
So what are our options when presented with a truth? We can blindly accept or blindly reject. Both embrace ignorance. Or, we can challenge what we see and decide for ourselves if what we are being told has merit.