We often make the mistake of thinking reality is something that’s black-and-white, a universal fact. But reality isn’t the same as undisputed truth. If you asked three different people to describe the same event, they would tell three different stories.
Picture this: You’re seated at an artist’s table with a few friends by your side. It’s paint night, and you’re immersing yourself in the experience of following an instructor as she helps everyone create a simple painting of a beachy sunset. You spend an hour on your painting when you get up to grab another drink. You look around the room and notice that every single sunset is slightly different.
The waves are bigger in one, the water is a little on the green side in another, and someone added a few birds to that one over there… but you all received the same instructions from the same teacher at the same time. How can they possibly be so different?
Because “paint the water blue” means a crystal-clear baby blue where you can see your toes in the sand to you, but it means a slightly greener tint to someone who grew up around colder, seaweed-filled oceans.
Our realities are just like those paintings. They are created by our unique set of beliefs and experiences. Your reality is just your perception of your reality. (Yes, I’m getting a little existential here, but my last article talked about lions hiding behind cubicle walls, so “bear” with me.)
What does that even mean?
When I say that “perception is reality”, I simply mean that reality is a brand new, empty coloring book, and we color the pages with our biases, personal journeys, and even our fears. In essence, we create our own realities and believe them as truths. And this usually works OK for us when we’re happily hum-drumming along the path we’re “supposed” to follow.
But when we feel the itch to step outside of our normal routine in order to pursue a dream down the road less traveled… that’s when our personally-curated version of reality can get in the way of living our best life.
Let me give you an example.
Recently, I was in the process of buying a house. For the past year, I’d gone back and forth on this BIG DECISION. The logical side of my brain kept saying, “You pay rent every single month to someone else so he can pay his mortgage, why don’t you just pay your own mortgage instead?”
While that reasoning made all the sense in the world to me, I still couldn’t move forward. I spent sleepless nights imagining that something catastrophic would happen, like losing my job, and I wouldn’t be able afford a mortgage.
After a while, I realized that I was creating fake-problems so that I could fake-solve them so that I would feel better about my decision to rent an apartment. I was subconsciously changing my reality so that I could stay in my safe zone.
The important point about all of this is that once you’re aware that you shape your own reality, you’re also aware that you have the power to change it. It’s just as easy (and way more powerful) to picture an amazing, abundant future instead of the gloomy, fear-based version. By accepting that you’re in control, you open yourself up to the possibility of a different, more fulfilling reality.
How do I start?
If you want to shift the world around you, it’s as simple as making different choices. I’m not talking about quitting your day job to climb Mount Everest (unless you want to). I’m talking about making teeny-tiny changes to your everyday life… like consciously choosing to eat something different for breakfast and imagining how satisfyingly sweet that first bite will be.
Every miniscule change adds up. You may not see it today or tomorrow, but, six months from now, you’ll notice a shift in your reality.
So, if you’re paralyzed by the dullness of the morning commute…
If you’re feeling a bit trapped by your daily routine…
If you’re marching to unfulfilling expectations...
Take a step back and think about the last major decision in your life. Where did it lead you? Is that the direction you want to be traveling? Maybe it’s time for a teeny-tiny side step: Join us at iPEC’s Life & Leadership Potentials Training for a transformational experience that has the power to change your life over three days.