Accepting Reality

If you want to make any improvement in your life, you must first accept the way it is now. Don’t try to judge it and make it wrong. Don’t try to glorify it or distort the truth to make it more attractive. Just accept the way things are.

I believe a lot of personal improvement comes from people seeing their current situations and finding pain in them. By seeing the situation as negative these people push themselves forward. And this method usually works. Extreme pain can often spur people to action and break them out of complacency.

But this method also has a cost. Whenever you make your current reality negative or wrong, you feel a lot of internal pain. You may reach a higher standard of life for which you can be satisfied, or you may end up endlessly chasing goals and dreams never to feel any fulfillment or happiness.

Personal development doesn’t have to be like this. When you accept your current reality, not deeming it good or bad, you start to see more clearly. You can see that life marks out paths in front of each of us. It gives us obstacles to overcome and problems to solve. Those challenges aren’t to disrupt our path, they are an integral part of it.

Reality is not good or bad, harsh or compassionate. Reality just is. Qualitative statements like good, bad, compassionate or cruel come from a brain that tries to imagine and compare. There is no other reality, no other now.

There is a duality to every experience in life. Every problem has a solution, every obstacle an opportunity, every negative a positive. If you feel confronted by a lot of personal challenges, all this means is that the path in front of you will be interesting, filled with bigger stumbles and achievements.

Does this mean that you should accept reality and stop trying to make it better? Of course not. When you accept reality you realize that every path is equal, each reality neither better nor worse than every other one. So your motivation to improve no longer comes from an inner sense of weakness but a desire to explore.

Does this duality of experience, that each negative contains a positive, mean that you can’t ever achieve total happiness, doomed to oscillate neutrality for your entire life? No, I don’t believe that either. Happiness doesn’t come from circumstance, but from perception. You can achieve great things but still be miserable because you perceive it as negative.

There is an old Buddhist saying, “There is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way.” Accepting reality allows you to see the big picture. Where all your challenges and obstacles are just new and interesting parts to the path.

When you can fully accept reality, it starts to become like a game. Complaining and negative feelings about difficult challenges in a game is silly, the challenges are the whole point of the game. There are some challenges easier than others, but the bigger the challenges the greater the satisfaction.

This is all easier said than done. I frequently stumble downwards into the level of consciousness where I lose sight of this big picture. Where I feel bad about the challenges or circumstances handed to me in some areas.

When this happens you need to train yourself to accept reality, to try to see the big picture again. Even if you can only hold these higher thoughts for a moment, the temporary release of suffering will make it easier to do the next time. Try taking a few minutes out of your day to look at the big picture of your reality, where each path is equal and all negatives contain a positive. Where your reality is yours to enjoy if you choose to.

  • Helgi

    “Where your reality is yours to enjoy if you choose to.” — Wonderful line.

    And I think what you’re talking about is a huge obstacle to many people, partly because it can be so subtle. As we see in the ‘spiritual ego’, where people get stuck in repressing and denying reality in an attempt to keep it in line with some idealized image of spirituality.

  • Scott Young

    Great thought, Helgi.

  • max night

    “Even if we close our eyes, there is a whole world outside ourselves and our dreams.” -Edward Elric (Fullmetal Alchemist). I love that saying from one of my favorite animes. Yes, I do watch them, and people dont appreciate them enough, especially the good ones. I just wanted to put that on here because there seems to be a pattern to this page for famous or not famous sayings. Reality is not what people want to see, and accepting things for what they really are is important for everyone to do. Many of the things humans try to undrstand have an infinite paradox or something like that. Its like saying “A rose is a rose is a rose is a rose”

  • Jason

    Nice one Scott 🙂

    Byron Katie has a book called ‘Loving what is’, and she makes a good point about how ‘arguing with reality hurts’. She herself goes much further than I can in her acceptance and declares things along the line of there being ‘nothing negative in the world’ etc. I’m not that enlightened! Her method of enquiring into thoughts that mentally make war with reality, is definately worth a look to those interested in this idea.

    For me, I really like Scott’s beautifully expressed advice to see reality for what it is but to appreciate the opportunities for positive in every negative situation. I like also the point about not imposing on reality qualities it doesn’t have, e.g. cruelty, and here’s one… fairness?

  • ganesh

    My name is M.Ganesh, 28 yrs old. I have developed lot of skills regarding film making. But till now I didn’t get any chance in Film Industry.
    I want to know WHY IT HAPPENS LIKE THIS?

    Please answer my question

  • Jeroen

    Hi Scott,
    One sentence stood out for me:
    When you can fully accept reality, it starts to become like a game.

    Love that one because I can relate to it form my personal experience. It’s like when you detach yourself a bit from your emotions and the situation, it becomes easier to see yourself as a tool and your space of possibilities just expands instantly. Games are all about meaningful choices, so your remark rings truth for me. Thanks.

    Jeroen from Heemstede, the Netherlands

  • Ximena

    This seriously made my day. You are so right. Accepting your reality doesn’t mean you have to settle for it, if anything it gives you the power to evolve from it, through whichever path YOU may choose.

  • Prashant

    I love this article. Perfect way of putting it all, thanks.

  • Raina B.

    I find my self really enjoying reading, which is not a bad thing. But I get my self mentally and emotionally attached to characters and if a character is to die….I take it way to seriously. I very much have created another world in my mind, and see reading as an escape. But on a drastic level. When I get towards the end of a book I start to fear it. Because even if the characters don’t die. Their life ends with the last page. And the thought of something ending scares me. I’ve started using feelings for fictional things to mask my real emotions and feelings. I often dodge the problem instead of solve it. And have gotten to the point were now everything is catching up with me. And I’ve been reading even more often now. And recently I started this manga. There is this one character that I just love, so much I could never explain it. My sister said to me, “I think it’s because she is sorta like you. She is misunderstood, unappreciated, hides her feelings, weak on the outside but strong on the inside, and she snaps like you do. You both have mental break downs fueled by anger. And you both talk much.” Now this kind of hurt me but I guess shes right…But if you ask someone “what is your absolute favorite character out of the ‘fictional universe’?”. They will most likely have to think about that for a bit. But I don’t have to at all. There isn’t even a near close second to this character. The other day my friend tricked me into thinking she had died. And he didn’t get why I responded the way I did. It felt likely heart stopped and had restart. When he told me that he just lied and wanted to see my reaction, I experienced a kind of happiness I hadn’t in a long time. But now I am currently almost done with the manga and am fearing the end because this is character will die in a sense.
    I’ve just been so stressed with my friends all being depressed and one teeing to kill herself. And lately I have trying to be really happy and lift their spirts. But I really have been going home and either crying or getting mad and throwing things. I keep snapping at people and feeling overwhelmed. I usually go upstairs and listen to music really loud and block everyone out and just read and read and forget about the real world and just leave it and go inside the book. Lately I’ve just wanted to go to sleep and never wake up. Because my nightmares are better than reality. Im still in high school and everyone picks on me including someone I used to best friends with. I don’t like the idea of gender and I’m pan-sexual. And honestly would prefer if people used both female and male pronouns. But i don’t tell anyone these feeling because…. I just don’t fully except myself so how can anyone except me? I guess lately I just don’t know what to do.

  • Julie A Selby

    Have you heard the term maladaptive daydreaming?

  • Julie A Selby

    Have you heard the term maladaptive daydreaming?

  • Hello Scott,

    old article but it’s still gold! Thank you and I agree with you! 🙂

    We should accept reality as it is, but we must also see it in a positive way. We can’t get stuck in the flow of negative thoughts and blame everyone around us for a misery.

  • Tony Paluš

    Hello Scott,

    old article but it’s still gold! Thank you and I agree with you! 🙂

    We should accept reality as it is, but we must also see it in a positive way. We can’t get stuck in the flow of negative thoughts and blame everyone around us for a misery.