Your reality is your perception. But are you perceiving the what is instead of the what if?
We all live two lives.
The life we think we are living and the life we are actually living.
How you perceive reality is quintessential to becoming the person you want to be. Why? Because life is a string of choices. The decisions you make to each and every situation you face add up over time. You can either Step Forward or dwell on the impossible.
Allow me to use parenting as an example…
Tired of Choosing
I’ve struggled in recent weeks to adapt to my son’s new sleep schedule. Previously, we put him to bed around 7 pm each night.
On average, it took less than 15 minutes to rock him to sleep. But once he hit 9 months old and daylight savings enacted, everything changed.
The bedtime routine lengthened. Henry woke up multiple times in the evening. Every night was a struggle.
I grew tired and frustrated.
The frustration arose from me focusing on the what if. What if he could sleep like a good baby? What if our bedroom didn’t face west towards the setting sun? What if I had more energy for this?
I focused on the what if instead of reacting to the what is. I imagined the perfect and easy bedtime ritual instead of the nightmare struggle to wrestle with.
I ignored reality. I ignored the real, tired child in my arms.
React to Reality
One recent evening, when Henry woke up well before he was supposed to, I shifted my perspective.
I ignored the desire to sleep. I pushed away the thoughts of passing him off to my wife. I focused on him.
I reacted to the reality in front of me, because that was the only option I had.
Calm, patient, I quietly rocked Henry back to sleep. I was attentive to his cues, the pattern of his breath, the twitching of his right leg, the weight of his head against my chest.
I focused on reality.
15 minutes later, I laid him in his crib. Not a peep for the rest of the night.
No More Baby Talk
I know a lot of my readers aren’t new parents, but there is an important lesson to take away here: react to the reality in front of you, not the reality you wish existed.
Too often we wish for a different situation, a different choice, a different path. But those don’t exist. Leave them. Ignore them.
It’s easy to dwell on what could have been. But where does that lead you?
In my upcoming book, The Millennial Way, I write about the importance focusing on the journey, and not just the destination. As we travel towards the horizon (our dreams), we can either keep an eye on the horizon or the path in front of us.
Sooner or later we will eventually arrive at what was once the horizon. But upon looking up, stretched out in front of us will still be another horizon.
By only keeping an eye on the horizon we fail to appreciate the journey around us.
How to React to Reality
I’ll conclude with a list of practical methods you can use to react to the what is more readily.
- Take a deep breath
- Talk to a trusted friend
- Put your phone down, observe what’s around you
- Add quiet time to your calendar