What Is Reality?
Reality Is What We Make It
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What is reality? The dictionary defines reality as the quality or state of being actual or true. While there are certain facts that are generally accepted by most people as being true, so much about life and the universe is open to interpretation.
When we are younger, many of us tend to see the world in clearly defined terms of black and white, right and wrong. As we travel further down the path of life experience, we often begin to see things in a vast array of shades of grey. In seeking an answer for what is reality, we discover that often, reality is fluid.
For much of history, most people believed that the world was flat. Of course, we now know that the world is round, but if we had lived before the 1500s, our reality would most likely have been a flat earth. It stands to reason then, that there may very well be things which we believe now to be true, that sometime in the future will be proven to be incorrect.
So then, what is reality in our daily lives? When we realize that in effect, reality is simply what we believe to be true, and that even widely held beliefs can change over time, we can also take responsibility for creating our own reality by consciously choosing our beliefs.
Reality is also highly subjective, meaning that what we believe to be true becomes true in our minds. What is true for us, though, may be vastly different from how someone else perceives this same ‘reality.’ Just as ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder,’ reality is also shaped by our own vision. According to Greek philosopher, Democritus, “Nothing exists except atoms and empty space; everything else is opinion.” This leaves a lot of scope for our answers to ‘what is reality?’
We can choose to see the beauty and miracles in every situation, and as a result experience a beautiful and miraculous reality. If we constantly focus on what’s wrong in our lives and the world though, our reality is going to be pretty miserable. Our answer to ‘what is reality?’ is greatly affected by the general outlook we have.
Selectively observing reality allows us to direct our focus and our actions in a way that can produce the most effective results, and to avoid feeding energy to things we do not want to experience.
As we become aware of thought patterns that are dragging us down rather than lifting us up and make a conscious and consistent decision to change our thoughts, we truly find that our thoughts do create our reality.
The power of thoughts is so strong that it forms the basis of every aspect of our lives. If we learn to control our thoughts we are then able to control our lives from the inside out.
We also create our reality with the choices we make at a practical level. In fact, conscious and constant choices are what can take our dreams out of the realm of fantasy and make them a reality. If the physical circumstances you currently find yourself experiencing do not match the picture of how you would like your reality to be, then new life choices are needed.
The first choice, and this is a really big one, is to choose to change your external reality and to recognize that there is always a real alternative in any situation. It takes courage and commitment to make this decision, and the commitment needs to be made daily, not just once. Change can be scary, but the only alternative to making a conscious change is staying stuck in a reality you don’t want.
Creating a new answer to what is reality through changing our actions is a big task. We needn’t be daunted though, if we just take one step at a time. To begin creating a new reality, we really need to be sure that the goals we are heading for are the ones we know in our hearts are right for us. Too often, we take steps to accomplish someone else’s vision of what is right for us, and then sometime down the track we wonder why the progress we are making is not making us happy.
Sometimes, when we are aware of experiencing discontent and frustration, but can’t pinpoint the roots of these feelings, we need to stop and take a reality check. Clearly understanding the facts, thoughts and feelings relating to our current circumstances can empower us to begin making changes.
We need to become really clear about how we truly want to shape our reality, and then we need a plan for how to get there. Without a clear knowledge of where we want to go, and a plan of how to start moving in that direction we are very likely to be struggling up a ladder that is resting on a wall we don’t even want to climb.
If you are feeling really trapped in a situation that you know is making you unhappy, but don’t know how to start changing your reality, there are a couple of things that can really help. One is reality therapy, a very practical and solution oriented type of counseling. The other is life coaching, which can help you figure out what you really want, and create a workable plan to begin moving in the direction that will bring you greater fulfillment.
Once we know where we are heading and we have the ‘ladder’ of a workable plan firmly in place, we just need to take the first step. That’s all- just one step. Lift that foot and plant it on the first rung of your ladder. Don’t look up and worry about how far away the top seems. Distance is all perspective anyway. Things are often much closer than they seem. Take that one step. And then do it again. Just one step is all you ever need to take.
Somewhere along the line, you will realize that those single steps have made an enormous difference in your external reality and your perception of what is reality. Just by taking small actions, repeatedly, it is amazing how quickly your life can change. Pause to congratulate yourself often.
Every day that you take one step towards the reality you want to experience is a cause for celebration. I like the affirmation “I tell myself often what a great job I’m doing.” This reminds me to appreciate everything that I am doing, and not to focus on what I’m not doing, or what I ‘should’ be doing.
In exploring, creating, and understanding reality, a touch of humor never goes astray. When questioned about what is reality, Albert Einstein replied that "Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one." For some reminders that our thoughts shape our reality, read this page on reality quotes.
Every day we have choices, and those choices shape our lives. We have the power to create an external reality that is as amazing as anything we can imagine, so discover the magic of thinking big.
So in essence, what is reality? Reality is what we make it. As author B. Quilliam said, “There is a fine line between dreams and reality, it's up to you to draw it.”
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