Earth To Space Cadet: Are You Just Daydreaming?

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The Secret Life of Walter Mitty hasn’t done great at the box office and critics have given it a thumbs down, but my Facebook feed has friends saying it’s one of the best films they’ve seen. Regardless of how Walter Mitty is portrayed in the film, the original short story by James Thurber describes a man you don’t want to be. In fact, Walter Mitty is the nice guy (as opposed to a good guy) who never seems to get ahead because he spends his time dreaming, and not doing. He daydreams of himself as a strong man, but in reality, his wife wears the pants in the relationship. He has no confidence, no influence, and no courage. It makes me wonder if he had the guts to ask his wife on their first date or did she ask him? In short, he’s too afraid to make the bold decisions in his real life, so he resorts to getting by and stumbling through life with daydreams. Are you a Walter Mitty? Here’s the definition:

An ordinary, often ineffectual person who indulges in fantastic daydreams of personal triumphs.

The New Yorker published “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” in 1939, the same year WWII broke out. The U.S. declared neutrality at first. However, in 1941 Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, and the U.S. declared war.

The nice guy declares neutrality. He doesn’t pick a side, and hopes everyone will continue liking him. According to No More Mr. Nice Guy, the nice guy is a people pleaser.

A universal trait of the Nice Guy Syndrome is the seeking of validation from others. Everything a Nice Guy does or says is at some level calculated to gain someone’s approval or avoid disapproval. This is especially true in their relationships with women.

Even President FDR understood the U.S. wouldn’t remain neutral for long. In his radio address, he said, “When peace has been broken anywhere, the peace of all countries everywhere is in danger.” Your peace is in danger.

My challenge to you for 2014 is to go outside your comfort zone. Be bold. Don’t be the spineless, emasculated nice guy. Understand you can try to be neutral for a time, but the battle is coming. This is the year you will confidently ask that girl out. Maybe you’ve been scared to talk to her in the past? Even if you experience rejection and defeat, this is your time of training. As opposed to war, personal defeat can spur you on to great things. Babe Ruth said, “Every strike brings me closer to the next home run.” No more daydreaming. Take the first step. Earth to space cadet, are you just daydreaming? Or are you making your dreams happen?

It’s interesting, because two superheroes debuted the same year as Walter Mitty: Batman and Superman. What was it about 1939 which spawned the hero and the daydreamer? Was it a result of the Great Depression intersecting with the beginning of WWII? Who knows? One thing is certain, though. You have a choice in 2014. You can boldly be a hero, or sit on the sidelines as a daydreamer. Which one will you be?

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  1. Thirteen Ways a Guy Can Improve His Dating Creativity - October 7, 2016

    […] Walter Mitty, rejoice! Looking for that AHA! moment? Spend some time daydreaming. It was probably the go-to for Steve Jobs. A study from 2009 shows daydreaming is involved with the “executive network” in the brain, which is essentially complex-thinking. There are positive benefits to keeping your head in the clouds. […]

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