Do We Need Fantasy, Romantic Fiction to Have a Love Affair with Life

Fantasy can be critical to leading a happy life. Why? Because, for one thing, we are not always happy. When we are down in the dumps, blue, sick with an illness, lonely, or in a bad state for whatever other reason (and life supplies many of them) fantasy can really help. The famous author Norman Cousins, when sick with a serious illness, explained that he made a decision to come back to health by laughing every day. To do this he watched comedies on television every day in his hospital room. He laughed and laughed and did get much better.

This is an example of the positive use of fantasy in daily living. After all, a comedy on television is not real life. There was no Lucy Ricardo even though there was a Lucille Ball. Lucille made a fantasy character come to life in I Love Lucy and we all fell in love with her and laughed our way through her exploits and mistakes.

On the other had fantasy can get a person in real trouble. Here’s an example: John started watching pornography when his family was out. He found himself longing to get to his computer to watch some more. Even more dreadful was the fact that he was not feeling interested in his wife anymore. He felt distant from her. Partly out of guilt as he constantly worried that his wife would find out what he was doing. He also felt less attraction and lust for her as he was satisfying himself, home alone, by watching pornograpy.

John was in a terrible delimma and fantasy had taken a pretty good life and turned it into a miserable life. So, the bottom line is that fantasy can be a useful tool to actually improve our health and happiness or it can lead a person to addictive behaviours that can be very demaging to health and happiness.

Here are some helpful hints to remember:
1. Are you using fantasy to enrich your life and/or cheer you up? (for example, you love to read romance novels, or your love watching movies). That’s fine as long as you are spending plenty of time and energy living your life: i.e. relating to loved ones, exercising, socializing, pursuing interests and/or a career, etc.
2. Are you using fantasy to escape and you see you are getting addicted? For example, watching too much porn, gambling, reading the next romance book instead of socializing? They you need to seek out some level of professional help such as a counselor or a therapist.

In summary, most of us benefit from the use of fantasy in our love affair with life. It helps us enjoy everything just a little more. A vacation is enhanced by having read a novel about someone who lived in the foreign country we are visiting. Imagining ourselves in romantic situations can stir the embers to get us ready for intimacy with someone that is right for us. But like everything in life, just the right dose for any given circumstance is the best medicine!

In the following video I explore some of the issues around fantasy.

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