Understanding and dealing with reality

Many people feel held back by the reality of their situation. Some want to get a more satisfying job but are stuck with the reality of their present demanding job that does not allow for preparations. Some want a peaceful marital life, but are stuck with the reality of an irate, un cooperative spouse. Some want to be rich but are stuck with the reality of their present poor lives that allows few options and opportunities. And so on and so forth…

The interpretation of reality is very personal and unique for each one of us

Most of the time, when we are talking of the reality of our situation, we are actually talking about our own interpretation of it.

What is also interesting is that all of us have our own different interpretations of reality.

As a kid, I would often visit my mother’s village(some 3 hours train journey from New Delhi). I met an old lady there who was convinced that the moon is not very far from the Earth and is inhabited by dwarfs. These dwarfs live by drinking water off a well. She could see and point out the well on the moon. No amount of passionate explanations from me and my brother, backed by our geography and physics lessons, would make her believe otherwise.

For those who believe in God, no amount of scientific explanation is enough to make them believe otherwise. In fact, a lot of them have their own, ‘scientific’ explanations of how God is an irrefutable reality. Come to think of it, the idea of God itself has so many different interpretations.

Why are we so obsessed with reality?

And why do we, the humans, seek to understand reality so badly? Animals don’t seem to be bothered by it, they just take and respond to whatever comes. It is perhaps because we can see that it affects how our lives go, how we feel, what we are able to do, accomplish, experience.

So, to ensure our own happiness and peace, we try to understand the reality of things around us. We want to be able to manipulate and control it.

This is a concept agreed upon by many. Understanding reality is a big part of growing up. We are encouraged by everyone to get a better hold of reality and learn how to manipulate it.

In the wake of this popular ‘common sense’, it is interesting to note that there have been some great minds who have pointed out that this approach is upside down. They say it is not the external reality that affects our internal state but the other way round – it is our internal state that affects the reality outside(or, at least, our interpretation of it).

The outer world represents our inner world

According to the people who believe in this, each one of us is creating our reality by the thoughts, feelings and emotions we hold dominantly.

There are 2 schools of thought among those who believe in this maxim. One can possibly be called the extreme believers, who say you are fully responsible for creating all your life experiences and situations. The other group, the moderates, say that you are responsible for the emotional and physical response you have towards the situation.

So, for example, if you have an irate and un cooperative spouse, the extremists would say you have manifested him/her in your life with your own thoughts. You have created this experince with your thoughts. The moderates might say that, while you can not control fully whom you come in contact with and how they behave with you, you sure can control how you respond to their actions. They might not agree that you are fully creating your reality with your thoughts, but they will agree that your thoughts(your emotional response to situations) decide how you ultimately end up feeling about yourself and your life.

So, whether it is a moderate or an extremist, both agree that…

It is just a thought that we are ever dealing with

What ever the problem with your reality, it is just a thought that you are dealing with. The problem because of an irate spouse, or a bad boss, or your low image of yourself, or your guilt over a life not spent well, or your unfulfilled desires for riches… they are all just thoughts in your mind.

And thoughts can be changed, at the drop of a hat. If you are unhappy about something right now, you have a choice to replace these thoughts of unhappiness with something else that you can be happy and grateful about.

Well, maybe I over stated. It is not just a simple change in thoughts, it has to be a bigger change in thinking habits and thought patterns. And breaking old patterns and habits takes conscious, continuous effort.

But the point here is not that. The point is, it is always and always just a thought. Your regrets of the past, your worries about the future, your anger, guilt, sadness, longing.. these are all just thoughts. And you have absolute power over them.

Now since you are habituated to them, you might disagree with me here, you might feel you are not in control. A simple test can prove the truth about this. Repeat slowly in your mind the words that follow. Feel their meaning, do this for a minute.

I am grateful that, of all forms of life, I have recieved a human form that gives me infinite possibilities.

I am grateful for living in a time when life has been made so easy to live that I don’t have to fight for every next meal. I have time to pursue higher goals.

I am grateful for having facilities and comforts(internet, phone, TV, automobiles, air travel, running water, electricity, air conditioning, ready made clothes, toilets with a flush!) that people just a couple of hundred years ago could not have imagined.

I am grateful for having been born into a such a privileged life, a life privileged not only among other animals, but among humans as well.

Now, how do you feel? Is sadness, want and anger still there? If you really tried to feel the words, the answer is probably ‘No’.

What you just witnesses was the absolute control you have over your thoughts, and hence your experience of this world. You made a conscious choice to read this post, you made a conscious choice to feel the words written above, just as you make a conscious choice sometimes to think of the people and situations that hurt you, just as you sometimes focus on all the things that are not right in your life.

*****

It is your own thoughts that decide how you feel. You have the power to completely control your life experience. If you believe the extremists, you can mould your whole life just with your thoughts. Even if you don’t, you will probably acknowledge that a change in attitudes will render you better prepared to make use of whatever opportunities life presents you with.

Until next time…

Image: Salvatore Vuono

6 Comments

  • Bertha Enriquez
    February 8, 2012 - 8:17 pm | Permalink

    I am grateful that you are still blogging, and I hope that the financial aspect of your life is improving.
    Until next time.
    Thank you.

    • Rahul
      February 9, 2012 - 11:08 am | Permalink

      Hi Bertha,
      It is nice to know people like reading what I write here. :)
      My financial situation is not particularly bad. Although I am working on creating certain income streams. I have no doubt that it will work out. What is a bigger concern for me right now, is to stay connected to my heart and to continue doing the things that give me fulfillment and joy.

  • Martin
    March 5, 2012 - 5:23 pm | Permalink

    Your blog is very insightful and I like reading it but I would disagree with this post in that I think we have virtually NO control over our thoughts and feelings, probably we don’t even have free will.

    Think about this: If you’re just sitting in a chair and a song comes on that is really catchy, you don’t say ‘I will choose to like this song’. You just like it. Also if you see a delicious meal in front of you, do you think ‘I am going to choose to find this meal delicious and I will choose to want to eat it’? No, you just find it delicious and want to eat it automatically. You can’t choose to like or dislike something, want it or not. You don’t say ‘I am going to choose to want some chocolate . . Oh! I would love a piece of chocolate now!’.

    These feelings and thoughts arise within you. They ARE you.

    There are millions of these books, blogs and articles on dealing with reality, how to find happiness etc. If any of them were actually correct, there would be just that one wouldn’t there? The fact that there are so many shows that none of them are adequately satisfying the needs of people out there. They’re simply another business. Another way to make money.

    There are many problems in the world. The fact that so many people struggle with this problem of just trying to be happy and find peace in their life shows not that we need to change our thoughts, it shows that there is obviously something wrong with the way we live and it’s pretty obvious that this is the case.

    I’d say it’s mainly down to the fact that we live in a society that is competition based, and is furiously focused on material gain, not interpersonal connection. Turn on a TV and you see adverts for things, things and more things. When do you see adverts to become a psychologist, charity worker, go abroad and build schools in Africa? When do you see adverts that say ‘go see a friend, tell them how much you value them, that is all’? Very rarely if at all cos there is nothing to sell there. Do we see adverts that even deal with real emotions? Adverts that ask you how you feel, how mentally well you are etc? No. Unless in some roundabout way that is ultimately looking to sell you a product that will make you ’feel happy’.

    The world, for lack of a better word, is f**ked. And the reason this unhappiness remains in people is not because they have to change their thoughts, or think positive all the time, or be grateful for what they have, because frankly I don’t give a damn about having these ‘comforts’ etc. I’d trade them all for a more loving, caring, intelligent world. And I don’t consider myself privileged to be born now at all, because I think the time we live in now has LESS of human bonding than other times, a time of complete spiritual destitution. We now wage war on a massive scale trough mechanical means while our nation sits on their fat ass watching sitcoms.

    The thoughts of unhappiness, and the feelings of unhappiness, are there for a reason. You wouldn’t accept someone who solely thought about depressing things, so why should we encourage people to think solely positive things? Aren’t the underlying mechanics the same thing? How about we focus on enacting real change so that we no longer need to convince ourselves that we are really lucky and happy? Because after all, when you laugh, experience joy and are happy, it’s not because you said to yourself ‘I am going to choose to experience the feeling of happiness now’. It’s because something happened that automatically gave rise to those feelings within you, like a child’s laugh, someone helping another, a beautiful night sky.

    We all know when we have been happy and it’s not because we had to logically tell ourselves it’s so. Let’s try to make that happen more often and we won’t need to find reasons to ‘be happy’.

    • Martin
      March 26, 2013 - 11:10 pm | Permalink

      Hey Martin,

      That was some sensible reply. You picked up some really thoughtful insights in your comments. I won’t disagree with what you have there, but maybe we can deal with this still.

      Isn’t it a fact that reality has always been this f***ed :)
      Weren’t wars there all the time? cultural quagmires, inequality in living conditions, competition for resources, weren’t they there since ever?

      Still people like you and Rahul do want to try and seek peace,solace, and happiness in whatever we have right?

      As far as Rahul’s post talks, I am more in favor of second line of thought i.e. my mind and thoughts controlling my actions. I feel that the best way to be happy would be knowing the fact that I made the best of the situation in front of me through my abilites in knowledge and power for the best of myself and those I care for. Beyond that, if things don’t work out my way, I don’t really feel bad. Because, one can only choose to act in a situation, but the outcome is not in his hands right?(This is Gita:) ).

      So far as trying to control your thoughts is concerned.( A good song and good taste et al.) It really is the process of meditation which is very scientific in nature, and does help improve our moods, and help us gather strength. It doesn’t affect your senses by hindering them, but rather allow you to be master of your thoughts and channelize them in the right direction one needs to take in a given situation. This really helps in dealing with situations which otherwise one feels tough to handle.

      Martin, Rahul, Let me know your thoughts :)

  • Andrea
    March 7, 2012 - 2:34 pm | Permalink

    Hi Rahul,
    Thank you for your words, this post is so positive and inspirational.

    • Rahul
      March 7, 2012 - 4:34 pm | Permalink

      You are most welcome Andrea! I am glad the post inspires you. :)

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