Should You Be More Realistic?

Maybe you’re just kidding yourself, thinking that life can get better. Let’s face it; people don’t really change. Maybe you’d be better off thinking a little more within the realm of possibility for yourself. At least, that’s what my mother would have said. My mother called herself a realist. She believed that things were the way they were, and that was that. Maybe she had become disillusioned by her own life experiences, or perhaps it was just because she was German. I don't know. All I know is that whenever, in my child-like exuberance, I would run to her and tell her about something I wanted to be when I grew up, she would invariably rain on my parade. She would enumerate the reasons why it was impossible and why it was best not to try. She wasn't trying to be mean. She meant well. Of course, she was horribly wrong. Realism says that things are the way things are, and it is unrealistic to expect them to change. In other words, realism enshrines the status quo. Realists think they see the world as it is. They don’t realize that they are merely seeing their own beliefs materialize over and over again. My mother didn’t know about neuroscience and that we are not able to experience something unless we believe it is possible. She didn't know the preemptive power that beliefs hold in framing our reality. It breaks my heart to think how much life my mother missed out on because of this one big faulty belief!


The World Is Real – You’ve Just Never Been There!

Here is a scientific fact I just learned recently that shocked me. When we say that the world we live in is of our own making, it is meant literally. We think that our brain takes in the world as it really is, but that’s not true. It turns out that, for the most part, it just makes things up. In reality, you only see a tiny fraction, about 1% of the world around you clearly. Specifically, you see the area you focus on; the rest is more or less a blur. Right now, you’re reading this article, and naturally, you see the screen clearly, but you are only vaguely aware of the rest of the room you’re in. Of course, you could look at the room, but then that would become your new focus, and then the screen you were looking at would become part of the background. For you to perceive the entire picture around you, your brain would have to be 600 times bigger than it actually is. Hardly efficient! Your brain literally only scans the tiny little point of focus you are looking at. It does not have actual informational data for the rest of the room, so it simply makes it up. It uses past memories about the room you’re in and also adds what it expects to happen in the future to provide you with a complete illusion of your surroundings. This is not just true for the room you’re presently in; this is the case under all circumstances. 99% of what you believe to be factual about the world around you is pure conjecture. There is a real world out there; you’ve just never actually been there!

Your brain creates its own reality based on your experiences, the things you’ve learned, and what you’ve come to believe and expect about the world. If we were in a room together, we would probably agree on the color of the walls and the type of furniture we’re sitting on, but in truth, we would each experience something different. Everyone has had a different life; therefore, everyone developed a slightly different brain. We are as unique on the inside as we are on the outside. Color, for example, is not an actual thing; it is an interpretation of the individual brain. Color consists of colorless light waves. When the eye perceives light waves, they travel to an area deep in the back of the brain where, depending on their wavelength, they are interpreted as a specific color. However, each person's brain processes this information in a unique way. Every brain sees and thinks a little differently.


What’s Your Reality?

Every brain comes up with its own reality. Although we’re similar in many, many ways, and we all occupy roughly the same space in the cosmos, people’s lives can differ vastly from your own. There are as many different realities as there are people. Some people occupy a different physical reality. I watched a YouTube video the other day about people whose body control is on another level. Some could leap into summersaults from standing still. They did not appear to be subject to the same laws as gravity as I, whose body creaks when I get up from a chair. I can literally not imagine moving that quickly and powerfully. Sometimes, even people who live right alongside you can still occupy a completely different dimension. My partner, the love of my life, apparently lives in a dimension that’s vastly different from mine. In 2016 she did something that would be completely unfathomable to me. At the age of 62, she climbed into a tiny, 21-foot rowboat and rowed the Pacific 2,500 miles from California to Hawaii. Without a motor, without a safety boat, relying only on her own strength. She faced unimaginable fear and loneliness. Can you imagine being a tiny speck in the vast expanse of the Pacific, particularly at night? She braved 30ft waves when a hurricane came up. She dealt with the discomfort of being exposed to the elements and wet and salty for 47 long days. This is just one of the many incredible feats she has performed, such as swimming around Manhattan Island or bicycling from Los Angeles to Atlantic City in the Race Across America, which she won. I occupy the same space as this person, yet I can’t comprehend the dimension of thinking that is required to want to undertake such feats. Me, I love spy stories and love watching spy movies. They’re fun and exciting, but, of course, for me, they’re fantasy. Yet, while I’m sitting comfy and cozy in my favorite rocking chair, there are thousands of men and women around the world who really are spies! People who risk life and limb, physical torture, and imprisonment, who shun all the things that are meaningful to most of us, love, family, security, and the simple joy of living, all for the thrill of it. They have created a reality for themselves that is very different from yours and mine.

Although our realities may be far less dramatic, we each live in worlds that are of our own making – simply because that’s how the human brain works. The reality we create for ourselves is undergirded by our personal beliefs, memories, and expectations. Some people create realities for themselves where they don’t have enough money or where their bodies are unwell. Perhaps the biggest fear people face is that they are somehow not enough, that they are inadequate and don’t measure up. They dream of being loved, as does everyone, but they do not believe that they are worthy. Based on their beliefs, memories, and expectations, they created a reality where no one can and will ever love them. They cannot fathom a reality where someone would be madly in love with them and worship the ground they walk on. If they were capable of imagining such a sweet dream, they would already have it. Instead, they are prisoners of their own beliefs, and their life is a self-fulfilling prophecy.


Realism is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

When you know the science of how and why we perceive the world, you have a choice. You can accept the status quo and believe the story that your brain tells you, or you can chuck the so-called realism and be, do, and have anything you want. Remember that what you call “real” is 99% made up by your brain. It’s made up of nothing but your old beliefs, your bad memories, and your low expectations of what might be coming next. You are living a self-fulfilling prophecy, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome. Successful people are called changemakers for a reason. They refuse to let life just happen to them. By definition, change cannot be created by accepting things as they are. Change does not come from being "realistic." To create change, you must go against the existing norm. You must do something different. For your world to expand to the life you want to live, you must expand your current belief system – and, as crazy as it may sound, this requires you to be UN-realistic. Don’t believe when your brain tells you that nothing will ever change. It is lying to you! When writing your List of the love and the life you want, you must allow yourself to dream and dream BIG, or nothing will ever change. Go for the gold! Lukewarm doesn’t cut it because it doesn’t generate excitement, and excitement is the fuel necessary to start your engines. (Remember, it’s all energy!) The big stuff, the stuff you really want, doesn't just fall into your lap. It can’t be found by being realistic. Don’t settle for the status quo. Make a conscious decision to broaden your horizons. You must allow yourself to see and do things differently, or you'll never get to see the huge world of possibilities that literally exists just outside your current point of view.

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