Everyone is always talking about optimism and pessimism, but what about the middle ground? Is being a realist the best way for you to reach your goals?
Negativity is not your reality. We often get into the habit of being negative to save ourselves the trouble of hoping. It's just one of the tools we use when we're building up our limiting beliefs.
After all -- it's better to be prepared for misery than to suddenly be faced with a bad experience. You can imagine all the ways this perspective can destroy your chance at your dreams.
Optimists, you're not safe either. And I'm not talking about people who see the "bright side." I'm talking about blind optimism, the kind that gets people into trouble. The kind that has people saying, "My life will get better, I just know it!" But don't do anything to improve their lives.
Each worldview is equally poisonous to a degree. On the one hand, negativity makes you anxious and defensive. It gives you a reason *not* to do something based on the possible risks. It makes you cynical about other people and the life you want to live. Blind optimism is the anti-catalyst. It tells you that things are gonna be A-OK no matter what, so it prevents you from breaking a sweat to get what you want. It makes you *lazy*, and the lazy very seldom achieve their dreams.
The Middle Road of the Realist
Just like everything else in life that's healthy, balance is the key. The word realist has received a bad wrap over the course of its life. People take it to mean someone who's cynical, who knows that the world is an evil place that can't be helped and blah blah blah gloom.
Here's what the dictionary has to say about that:
re·al·ist | ˈrēəlist
1. a person who accepts a situation as it is and is prepared to deal with it accordingly.
Imagine that. Isn't that who we all want to be? Don't we all want to see a situation, not freak out or shut down into happy mode, and actually resolve it?
When I say realist, I always think of someone who is mindful. I know it's a pop-term nowadays, but the two go hand-in-hand. Someone who is mindful simply observes what's happening without trying to fix it. That's quite a skill. Because if we observe something in its wholeness, we're more likely to find a solution or the most optimal way to enjoy it.
Most of us look at a situation and instantly try to go about fixing/enjoying it without seeing it for what it is, and that's where we often shoot ourselves in the foot.
The Perspective Project
A realist changes their perspective entirely to reveal what's actually happening without letting their judgements get too far ahead of them. Unless you're an enlightened, holy person, it's going to be quite a challenge to completely forego your emotions when you look at a situation. Even seasoned meditators and prayerful people snap out of their joyfulness every once in a while.
But that's not what realism asks you to do. After all: it's realistic. You just need to observe a situation as well as you can. Then you simply label what's happening without applying the "good" or "bad" stamp to it.
What I find most interesting about realism is that, most of the time, people begin to see the good in lots of situations. It's quite oppositional to the "pessimistic realism" defintition most people are used to.
Just look at those who are most mindful and observant: you'll see that, most of the time, they don't instantly freak out when things go wrong like many of us do. And why is it that they're more likely to see the good? Because they've got more *perspective*.
In reality, if there's no problem, you have all the reason to be optimistic.
A man standing under a burning tree might see an inferno, but the bird soaring high above sees one speck of orange in an otherwise lush patch of green. When you can see the whole situation, or as much of it as you cab see, it allows you to turn obstacles into opportunities.
Obstacles into Opportunities
It wouldn't be much help adopting a new worldview if you didn't have practical, positive effects coming from it.
The best thing about seeing things as they are rather than what they could be is that you deal with the heart of a situation. You're not looking to the future or wondering when the whole ordeal will be done -- you're a realist, and you're most worried about sitting down and solving the problem at hand.
And that's when you can turn "bad" times into incredible opportunities. Each obstacle you face is a place to slow down, fix something, and make it better. It's a place where you can either:
1. Improve yourself by learning to solve a complex problem.
2. Improve your life by solving the problem.
3. Turn the problem into an ally by applying your solution to other problems.
The whole idea of realism and problem-solving is that, just like goal-setting, action is at its center. Realism eschews sitting there and stewing in fear or blissing out for actually getting things done. That's something a lot of us could use in our lives where we're told that just feeling a certain way will improve our situations.
I hope this redefining of realism helps you discover new ways to become your best self.