“I dreamed I was a butterfly, flitting around in the sky; then I awoke. Now I wonder: Am I a man who dreamt of being a butterfly, or am I a butterfly dreaming that I am a man?”
Many many years ago I read a story that encompassed this quote and it struck me as a great way to reduce stress and center myself when I got frazzeled. So, I wrote “I am a butterfly and this is my dream” on a small piece of paper and kept it in my wallet. Whenever I got stressed I’d look at it. Eventually I didn’t even need to look at it – I just automatically took a deep breath and reminded myself I am a butterfly and this (whatever bad is happening) is just a dream. I like the concept it isn’t avoidance but just a reminder that whatever you are stressed about isn’t who you are and it isn’t what really matters.
Years later when I met my friend Zoe she saw the note in my purse. I told her the story as I remembered it but I couldn’t remember or find where I had gotten it from. Well, Zoe, here is where it came from.
Chuang Tzu was a Taoist philosopher in 4th Century BCE China. Although I believe he meant the parable as a question of what is reality it really does work as a way to focus on what matters.
Worried about a presentation at work? Don’t worry you are a butterfly and this is your dream. It kid of frees you to just live in the moment and enjoy each experience. It also reminds me that when I’m feeling down on myself, I’m still a beautiful being.
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