What Is Reality?

This is a topic that’s blown my mind the last few months as I’ve learned more about what reality is and how we can shape and in fact create it. Apart from facts (gravity pulls us toward the ground, air is what we breathe, toes are on our feet), reality is subjective and created to a degree I had never before realized.

Let me explain. Let’s say you’re working at a job and hate it. You hate the music you have to listen to, the tiny cubicles, the color scheme, the way your boss nags, the way your coworkers gossip, and the way the sunshine glares off a picture frame and hits you dead in the eyes while you’re trying to write a stupid report with cramped fingers.

Maybe your coworker in the next cubicle loves the job. She loves the hip music, the small spaces, the soothing gray-scale, the way the boss pushes her to improve, the willingness of her coworkers to open up to her, and the way the sunshine fills the office as she writes a meaningful report with fingers pleasantly stretched from a morning of work.

Which version is real? BOTH. The job is not objectively good or objectively bad. Neither is the music or color scheme or sunshine. The boss is neither a nag nor a great manager, and the coworkers are neither gossipy nor friendly. They are both and none. In fact, they are what you want them to be.

The facts are this: you work in a cubicle (“small” is not a fact unless you say “small for the area/type of business/etc.” What is “small” to you may be “spacious” for someone else). There is pop music playing. The walls are different shades of gray. Sunlight is shining into the cubicle and hitting your face. Your boss told you to add a new line to the report and to change seven existing words. Your coworker told a story about her friend’s birthday party. THOSE are the facts. Everything else is subjective and created.

And the really cool part – the part that BLOWS my mind? You can create whatever you want. You can create a cool office space or a space you hate. You can admire your boss or hate her. You can value your coworkers or distance yourself from them.

And the even cooler part? Neither response is wrong. Maybe this isn’t the job you envision yourself in. It isn’t your dream job and isn’t what you want for yourself. Maybe seeing the environment negatively actually pushes you to search for something else. Or maybe seeing the environment positively helps you feel happier in your position and even turn it into your dream job.

You get to decide.

We see this with morality often. One religion will say marrying someone of the same sex is a sin. Another will say it is a blessing. Even individuals within the same religion interpret morality differently based on what they want to create.

And that’s so cool. Because that means the world is our sandbox and we get to create what we want within it. Also cool – we get to create what we want together. We get to mesh our vision with those of others.

And although we can’t always change facts (things beyond our control), we can change our story and what we choose to create.

Is this brainwashing? Maybe. But we always tell ourselves a story. You could say we constantly brainwash ourselves if “brainwashing” means “the context we create around a fact.” And storytelling isn’t a bad thing, as long as we use it to our benefit and the benefit of those around us.

What story do you want to tell? Why? How? Is there a story you’ve been creating that you would like to change? You have all the pieces, and you have the power to shift them – to arrange them differently, in a way that better benefits you.

NOTE: This post isn’t meant to address trauma or mental/physical illnesses. If you are experiencing these, this post may not be helpful at this time, though I do hope it gives you some hope for the future, as well as awareness of what, in time and with hard, consistent work, is possible. Always seek professional help if the leap from where you are to where you want to be seems more than you know how to take on or if you’re struggling just to stand on your own two feet. I’ve been there and would have hated a post like this in that situation, so please refer to other posts for help suited for where you are now.

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