Realistic is the adjective of cynics. Wherever you encounter skeptics, naysayers, and charlatans, you will always encounter this word.
I’m not saying it’s a bad word, that there’s no logic to it, or that it’s completely irrelevant. I’m just saying… who cares whether something is realistic or not? You might as well leave this word to the cynics—let them have it. Let them own it. It won’t do you any good anyway.
Realistic is used to do two things simultaneously: one, to criticize. Two, to justify.
First, the criticism. The message is: Who are you to think you could possibly follow a dream? How silly of you. Underneath this criticism lies the cynic’s justification of his own self-righteousness. To be around someone intent on following a path regardless of whether it is realistic or not can be deeply unsettling. Therefore, the experienced cynic will seek to deploy the shield of realistic to ensure he or she is not further troubled.
Second, the justification. The message is: My way is superior, no one could live like that, we can’t all do what we want all the time, blah blah blah.
But let there be no mistake: language is powerful. The words you use matter, so be deliberate. In one of his many recent TV interviews, someone asked Charlie Sheen if he wasn’t being a bit grandiose. His response:
“Of course I’m grandiose. I have a grandiose life and I’m embracing it. It doesn’t fit into their model, and their model sucks.”
Now, say what you will about Charlie Sheen—but that’s not the point. The point is that you too can live a grandiose life. Hopefully your version of this life involves more than hookers and cocaine, but what he says is true. Their model sucks! You’ll never really fit in.
Look around you at the world. Look at what troubles you. Look at what is not right. You could look at these things and reflect, as many people do: “It is what it is.” This is a popular expression among cynics, along with “Welcome to the Real World.”
Or you could reflect: “Hmmm. What could be done to change this?” Summoning the courage to answer this question is what separates you from the cynics.
How about when you succeed—then what? Alas, in the eyes of cynics, success is a hard sell. They’ll say you’re the exception, or that you didn’t follow the right rules to achieve the success. They’ll find a reason why your success is an outlier, and therefore not applicable to their model. But that’s OK, because their model sucks.
This is why you must not work for the approval of cynics; you must have a higher motivation that is yours alone. You must work for what is noble and right, and for what is true to your own self.
Because you, not being a cynic or a naysayer or a charlatan, have already tipped the odds in your favor simply by daring to believe in something. You’ll get your way in the end, and then people will say… “That’s nice, but it’s just not realistic.”
Then you continue to live your unrealistic, grandiose life.
Ahh, ‘realistic’ is always an interesting term. I use it myself, so my criticism is also directed back at me. It’s used to put down others, reduce expectations and to write someone off as crazy.
I work part time at a farmer’s market for a local farm. If they’d stuck with ‘realistic’ they would be a librarian and an IT guy. Instead they have a thriving farm with 4 market stalls, a partnership with another farm and supplying local restaurants. They don’t deal in ‘realistic’, instead, they go full out and make the most of any opportunity. Because of that, many think they are crazy, and yet, it works. They may stumble, but somehow their larger-than-life dream is thriving.
Personally, I’m trying to take a page from their book and be damned with ‘realistic’. Ins tead, work hard, dream big and go hard.
My favourite reality quote:
“Reality is for people who lack imagination!”
Excellent emphasis on the fact that there is more than “one model” out there. The model is as individualistic as the one who recognizes his/her own uniqueness.
I have been attempting to reclaim the word “realistic” to mean something fabulous and dream-fulfilling; for me it’s where the rubber of the dream and the road of the “Real World” meet. I look at the dream, I look at the world, and I go, “Okay, what do I need to do to fit this into my actual day to day life? How can I make this dream realistic?” (By which I mean, how can I achieve my dream without losing our home, destroying my marriage, never seeing my kids, and so forth.) It forces me to name my values, decide what’s most important and what’s less so–what I can let go of, what I love too much to risk, and what I love too much NOT to risk for.
Screw the cynics! Realism is great–the key is recognizing its fluidity.
I was reflecting last month on how quickly I’ve been sucked down into stable, Corporate America life – so much so that it took me nearly a week to wake up to the fact that historical protests were happening in my backyard. Just a few years ago, I was an idealistic college student who protested social justice issues – now my biggest concerns are 401k allocations and vacation day accruals.
I think the biggest problem with “realistic” thinking is how insidiously it can creep into your life. Without realizing it, we subconsciously orient ourselves towards “realistic goals” – unless we actively take the time to break away from this mindset.
I’m not sure how my newly rediscovered, unrealistic, grandiose life will take shape, but I have to admit – I feel a lot better knowing that it’s a conscious resolution on my part.
Anyway Charlie Sheen’s father paved the way for him. Charlie is NOT A SELF MADE MAN OR EVEN A MAN AT ALL! Just a “BIG SPOLIED LIL BOY” use to getting his way DUE to MARTIN SHEENS SUCCESS! So Charlie is NOT REALISTIC & SO NOT “WINNING”! BIG LOSSER! I could say that really s….., But, you CAN get a point across without using that kind of words: those type of so called words shows lack of knowledge. He’s just a want to be Hugh Hefner & theirs only 1 of him. And I’m not saying I agree with his lifestyle, he just shows A LOT more class than the dirt under CS’s finger nails.
If realistic reigned as a mass mindset we’d never have gone to the moon, run the 3 minute mile, or even been reading this post due to the original attitude of one day there being computers in every household. Realistic, on the other hand is what we truly sense we can conceive and imagine, and then go create. We all don’t have to think along realistic lines so long as enough of us do. Here’s to the adventurers!
I think the one of the hardest things to get over for anyone that steps outside the boundaries is that key thing you said – “you must not work for the approval of cynics.”
When we put stuff out there for the world to see and judge, we can look at the 1,000 people that loved it, and still feel the strong tug of the 5 people that didn’t. It’s easy to say, “I don’t worry about their criticism. I’d like to see them do something better,” but to actually get over that feeling is the struggle that I think many of us have (I know I do).
Assuming that others have experienced that to some degree, how have you gotten over it?
Great article Chris. Today I needed an extra dose of inspiration, and I’m happy to say I got it. 🙂
Another “R” term that’s worth pondering is “reasonable.” There’s a great quote by George Bernard Shaw: “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”
This is now on my list of favorites – thanks.
I highlighted this section of “Poke the Box” (Seth Godin)
“Sooner or later, many idealists transform themselves into disheartened realist who mistakenly believe that giving up is the same thing as being realistic.”
Here’s to living grandiose! Cheers! Loved this blog.
I think there is also an element of fear and control behind the person who is uttering the word “realistic”. For them, it isn’t realistic to follow their dreams, and to feel better about themselves, they don’t want anyone else around them doing that either. That would just make them more miserable. But, like others have said, they are to be ignored and moved beyond.
Thanks Chris, I needed that today. I heard a pastor speak about this yesterday, he said if no one is laughing at your vision, you don’t have a vision, you’ve got a daydream.
What I’ve learned is that those who dream big will never do it ‘right’ by other peoples standards, but “they” only know what “they” know. Innovative thinkers, like you and I find a way to do it. I’m choosing to just believe. God bless.
So very true!! Just the motivation I need to get past “naysayers” and “realists!”
Great post Chris. What I don’t understand about the ‘be realistic’ phrase is how something a person does, how the physical actions they take, can be not unrealistic.
Example: I decide I want to play music for a living. If I’m practicing, writing, and playing, is this all happening in my head? Is this some kind of elaborate hallucination shared by the performer and the audience?
Of course not. It’s quite real. It’s happening.
It’s just that the critic’s doesn’t want to acknowledge it as a viable option because it threatens their model of what is acceptable and possible. They rarely say ‘be realistic’ because they’re looking out for your interests.
Thanks for red flagging that word. (Another favorite is, “HOW are you gonna do that?”)
I’ve always thought that realistic was a favorite word of those who had abandoned their dreams. As Sarah Ban Breathnach warns, “A disgruntled dreamer makes a risky mentor.”
Last year, I worked with way too many people who over-utilized the phrase, “It is what it is.” It made me want to pull my eardrums out. Thank goodness there are other people in the world like me, who believe we can do better.
“Realism” is a term that I have always had to deal with in others when they would criticize what I would want to do with my life. From my experience the term “realism” is rooted in fear. Fear of change. People seem to crave stability, since that’s where most people get their power from, the status quo. Realism for me is just another word for the status quo. The person who has the nerve to go out into the world and make a life outside the current status quo or models is seen as a bit of a threat to those who have resigned themselves to the current status quo or models of how things are or should be done. Me, I find that person to be a much needed breath of fresh air in the world.
You pretty much nailed it in the first 4 sentences.
Reality is purely subjective, and the word is one of invented meaning when two people decide to agree on limitations… Nothing more.
Great post, Chris. Imagination, creativity, great questions…all arise from the place that says what appears to be real doesn’t have to be. I have also learned that what appears to be real very often is not. Love your work.
I didn’t think it was possible to put a positive spin on anything that Charlie Sheen says. Well done…and I agree – living life according to someone else’s plan is overrated.
This post really hits home for me- someone very dear to me left because of my decision to not go into the military as an officer, but because I wanted to pursue my painting instead, and to teach it – her reasoning: “I’m just being realistic.” The word “realistic” branded itself on my brain, becoming a negative thing- it still stings to this day…
As a side note, I had a co-worker with whom I’d argue that cynicism and “being realistic” were the same thing- I’ll have to forward this to her!
This post made my day, I think I’ll paint for a bit.
Excellent insight, but I’m not sure if it’s very realistic. Haha, just kidding, I like it!
I am stunned that anything Charlie Sheen has said would resonate with me, but on this particular occasion, I’m all for it!!! I want nothing to do with what the status quo is selling….
That is exactly what I am working on!
I find that I’m living the “unrealistic” life about 70% of the time…but doubts often try to pull me back into the grind.
You’ve sparked my day, thanks.
WOW, Chris! That ‘realistic’ word makes my aura shrink! 🙂
My son is the one giving me the lecture. He’s a High School freshman and he feels I have ruined his life by being ‘unrealistic.’ He calls it ‘hippie-thinking.’ He wants a long-term PLAN- a ‘realistic plan.’
I have to admit I have felt I am in prison hearing this everyday and considering his opinion.. ‘maybe he’s right.’
It takes the ‘spark’ out of life for me! Losing life force just thinking about ‘realistic.’
He has spent one year of education in a foreign land (LOVED IT!), now feels I have messed up his whole education because he does not have the same skill set as other kids his age in this country. (Teachers here would tend to agree with him, as far as I can tell.)
We were unable to remain in the foreign land because I don’t have dual citizenship. BOARDING SCHOOL would be ideal, if I had the resources. Maybe other parents have suggestions. How to deal with this in your household??
And then consider what the Yogi Masters have been saying since time immemorial…
None of this is real!
This post resonates at 1,000 decibels for me today. I’m about to embark on a four-month trip to Europe (after quitting my job) and although I’ve got a lot of cheerleaders there have been the cynics. This post helped remind me that the chorus of supporters is the only group I should listen to. Thanks, Chris.
Fantastic post! The very nature of my blog is learning new things and pushing myself to new extremes. Whilst theere are people that encourage a great deal just tell me how realistic I am with my goals.
I always reply by saying
“opinion isn’t fact, and for you to feel the need to tell me that suggests to me you believe that you comprehend how the world works better than me, which I for one do not believe”
Fantastic post! The very nature of my blog is learning new things and pushing myself to new extremes. There are people that encourage, but a great deal tell me how unrealistic I am with my goals.
I always reply by saying
“opinion isn’t fact, and for you to feel the need to tell me that suggests to me you believe that you comprehend how the world works better than me, which I for one do not believe”
Sometime while I was in college, my mom said to me, “Things just seem to work out for you.” Though I don’t know if I enjoy any more divine favor than anyone else, I can say that certain endeavors have worked out, if only because I tried: two study abroad semesters; living on somebody else’s dime for two months in Sydney, Australia; getting an MA in poetry without accumulating any debt; starting my own business; and the list goes on. Wayne Gretzsky said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” I guess somewhere along the way I started taking shots. You’re right, Chris: plenty of people will put a hand on your shoulder and talk about being “realistic.” Most of the bad things these naysayers think will happen never do, and while they protect the status quo, some of us are leading more hopeful, idealistic, and, I’ve found, very PRACTICAL lives. Cheers to ignoring the Dementors! Listen to the old who are wise, not the old who are scared.
It’s so much easier to put another down for not following your way than to actually open your mind to an adventurous possibility. My father is a scientist, and I am an artist. We don’t get along. He recently classified my engagement as “neat”. Hearing him downgrade my pursuit in a career in video games has been something I still struggle with. He doesn’t share my view, and instead attempts to cloud it with doubt. I have since stopped working for his (and other cynics’) approval and find that I’m much better off. If nothing else (win or lose), I just don’t want to turn out like him; out to “correct” peoples’ reality. His model sucks.
Thank you so much for this article. All of them, actually. Thank you 🙂
Excellent blog Chris. Really hit home. Being back in LA for a while there are a lot of naysayers here which I find ironic coming from my experience living in London the last 10 years. (Brits are much more cynical than yanks – or are they?) But it really doesn’t matter where people are from or where they live. You still take your mind wherever you go. Being realistic is a state of mind for people living in fear.
Very very interesting! First time I’m commenting here (even though I’ve been an avid reader of ur awesome blog).
I think it was John Eliot (and also Steve Jobs along similar lines) who said that the ‘revolutionaries’ along the human’s history, whether in science, economic, art, sports, etc, have always been those who’re often termed ‘nuts’.
And it’s so very true.
And besides, living a “realistic” life is boring.
Naaaahhh,..I guess I’ll stay with my “unrealistic adventurous” life.
Thanks for reminding me again of my True nature of being an Idealist/Dreamer!
“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one” – John Lennon, Imagine 🙂
Love the Charlie Sheen comment – The beauty of it is that your grandiose life is different than mine and his than ours….and we should all be able to pursue the grandiose life that is uniquely ours! Great post – I think I get it, thanks!
From the earliest age we are taught to toe the conventional line as if that is the only valid path. We learn to see the world in a limited and false manner, a way that serves the power structure that reaps the benefits of its work. This is one of the reasons that the bulk of America’s wealth has “trickled up” to the top 1%. Because we toe the line they drew.
I so needed to hear this today. I was pretty busy all morning beating myself up for being different and making changes and pursuing my dreams. Silly me, I’m doing the right thing, I’m being me!
Your article reminds me of a saying from Richard Bach’s book, Illusions, which goes as follows:
Your only obligation in any lifetime is to be true to yourself. Being true to anyone else or anything else is not only impossible but the mark of a false messiah.
Great article, Chris. My only contribution or personal comment to it would be: When we see something that’s not right, we could change it; some might even say we must change it. I feel that a subtler and perhaps higher and more effective approach would be to change ourselves regarding the situation first. And it all falls within the realm of your article, of pursuing what one believes in.
The cynics aren’t always “out there”. They’re often in our own heads, a far more insidious method of dousing our dreams. Being “realistic” is right up there with being “practical” and (the classic) – when are you ever going to “grow up”?
There will always be naysayers in the world. I prefer to surround myself instead with truly supportive people who believe in limitless possibilities (all those who follow your blog are a great example!)
I find that those who challenge my dreams are my best teachers, pushing me to define for myself what is real, causing me to get practical in terms of setting goals and taking action, and unwittingly inspiring me to be more than I imagined possible!
I am just floored at the insight this blogpost provided. Just last night I was my flogging myself about pursing my first college degree at 48 y/o. I was caving into the notion it is too late, the built in cyanic was having a heyday. I eventually went to bed, then woke as usually turned on my computer and looked for my new assignment (How to make a superhero). Heroes often have a tragic flaw. They believe they can do.
Loving this post. I’ve been coming to this conclusion over a long stretch of time.
@Benjamin – I’m a creative, too. Negative comments from family members do hurt – when my father stated “well that’s what happens when you try to turn a hobby into a career” in response to a setback I was talking to him about, I made a decision to only tell him about the successes from then on.
My brother used to say “when you ask someone for permission, you give them the opportunity to say ‘no’.”
Thanks, Chris, for a “shot in the arm” at a perfect time. I was being wooed by the Siren Song and almost dashed upon the rocks of Realism. Didn’t the hero of the Siren story have to wear a blindfold and cover his ears to avoid being seduced? Now there’s an analogy…
“HOW are you gonna do that?” Yes, Barbara, that’s another one that gets me.
I’m being totally unrealistic and unreasonable right now. I took off 2 weeks ago on a 30-day ticket to London. Spent 2 weeks in Scotland, couch-surfing and hosteling. The last 3 days were spent in the company of a woman I’d never met, in Glasgow. Her half-brother asked her to keep me until I could get a coach to Ireland.
Now I’m in the far north of Ireland (still in the Republic), working for that man at a hostel/b&b for room and board for a month. After that I hope to find another gig similar to this, and another after that. In July I’ll be near Limerick, helping with an English language school.
I’m not going back to the U.S. on 23 March. Not sure when I’ll go back, but probably not until near Christmas. Don’t know how I’ll get a ticket, but it’ll all work out.
This is in response to Margaret who is upset that her teenager is calling her unrealistic because of her hippie attitudes…..He is a TEENAGER. Complaining about their parents is what they do. As a former teenager myself, I can guarantee that your teenager would be using the same word, “unrealistic”, if you have raised him in the mainstream school system. Only in this case he would be complaining that his education was limited and lacking the world-view. He may rebel and explore outside your life views for a while, but eventually he will come back to the same values he was raised with. Relax, give him a hug, and tell him he’s awesomely mainstream and just like everyone else.
Thanks so much Chris. “it’s not realistic” is my most hated phrase! I hear it all the time. It’s great to read an eloquent rebuttal of such a squashing mindset.
Bang on Chris! Dream killers I say… no spirit for adventure, or imagination.
See you @SXSW 😉
Chris. I just love this post. What more can I say? Keep it real! 🙂
Elizabeth! God Bless you! Thank you so much! I appreciate your encouragement.
Since it is only the two of us (son and me) in this house, and I try to look at things through other’s eyes, I often doubt myself… BUT I do know my own HEART, and when not living from my heart, I feel horrible.
I will carry on, living unrealistically.. and focus on the WHAT–not the HOW… I get that ‘how’ question from people all the time. I never know how.
I only know WHAT! and the how is up to the Divine, ultimately.
(Hippie thinking as it is–it works for me.. and LIFE IS AN ADVENTURE, not a list of ‘how it should be.’ THAT SUCKS!
Do you know how many people I run into that say they have ‘always wanted to go somewhere or do something’ and they never do it? I want to SHAKE them and say: “For God’s Sake, just DO IT!” So what about the retirement plan? How long will you live after retirement to even USE it if you squelch your spirit all this time?
You’re right the word can be a criticism and a limitation. Perhaps we might consider it as a challenge as well. You have people who dream, and people who balk at the new, and “reality” is all of it together, the good, the bad and the neutral. Being realistic can mean embracing the challenge within the dream and also recognizing there may be people or situations which you have to address to be effective in the implementation of “the dream.”
If your intention is to create conflict, then outright dismissing the “naysayer” will get you where you want to go quickly. I say from frustrating experience, you may want to take a moment to listen. You may not agree, there may be no substance to the complaint, but what if it is something you want to consider, or need to or simply should because it is a concern from a good person who is frightened by change? “Realistic” does not have to be a word that ends consideration. If you let it, it could be a word that opens doors rather than shutting them
That was just what I needed to read today, so deeply felt, thanks for being there Chris.
It’s ironic that I should have anything to say about your article, Chris, given that my blog is called Saint Cynic. Let me assure you, however, that it is not meant as a reflection of my character, but purely as a purposeful juxtaposition of clashing perspectives.
Anyway, I very much appreciate what you have written in your article. Your words have grabbed my head and my heart and shaken them up. I find that your site has that effect on me quite regularly, which is why I have concluded that your site is dangerous: it wisely and humbly addles people from their slumber, and unbuttons their securities.
Having said that, I should also add that I’m very grateful for the danger I encounter whenever I visit. My perspectives and, consequentially, my relationships have all improved since I’ve opened myself up to the helpfulness of your insights. I feel less compelled to shield myself by conforming, and more excited about living out-loud, and engaging my inherent freedoms.
It’s funny this showed up in my in box as I’m applying to an MBA program in the United Kingdom. From the reaction of many of my friends and family at this bit of information, you’d think I’d said I was going off to Tibet to start an ashram or something.
“Be realistic,” they all tell me. Well, I tried that for twenty odd years and it’s gotten me nowhere.
Chris, thank you for this piece.
I understand the sentiment and intention of how you are using “realistic” and I agree that if you use “it’s not realistic” to limit yourself, limit your goals, limit you vision of the future, you are doing a GREAT DISSERVICE to yourself — and if you do it to others (such as your children, your partner, your friends, your students, your co-workers, your friends), you are doing them a GREAT DISSERVICE. And it’s NOT TRUE either, because it’s about the future, and none of us really “know” the future.
However, living in “present reality” is the functional stepping stone every step of the way to a “grandiose” (or I prefer “awesome”) life — present reality of yourself inside yourself and outside yourself every moment.
Love this! As an 8th grade English teacher, I sometimes use an exercise where I require my students to color a coloring book page. The only rule is that they cannot color inside the lines or otherwise follow the “rules” of coloring. Some of my kids LOVE this; they immerse themselves in just coloring and creating. Other kids nearly have panic attacks and can hardly bring themselves to do it. These are usually the same kids who believe writing is “right” or “wrong.”
I try to challenge their thinking that there’s a right or wrong way to do things, that there are multiple paths to their goals and that they should dream big. We need more unrealistic thinkers in our world!
Maria, HOW FUNNY! I confess. I went to India and then came back and turned an old farm into an ashram… so I got quite a chuckle about your comment!
Not doing that now but I do know HOW to do it in case I get another inspiration in that direction, or maybe I just have to write a book for all those who want to know how to do it,
or it’s just a book for me to integrate all I have learned in the process of LIFE AS AN ADVENTURE…we have many here who could contribute to a book with that title! I enjoy reading all these posts of interesting, creative people. Thank you, everyone!
“Realistic,” another word for “I’m afraid to do it, and your doing it will reveal the coward in me so I’ll say what you’re doing is not ‘realistic’ to keep me from looking bad.”
Great article Chris!
I think it comes down to what you are willing to compromise and that compromise may not be whats in the best interest of your child… I in-fact did believe until I became a single parent.
Still on the fence.
Love this. Thank you for reminding me to keep pushing forward no matter what people say!
I can’t identify with the standoffish tone of this article, or of many of the comments here.
Why must there be this us vs. them mentality? Why should optimism and realism be an either or? I believe in both equally. In fact many of the world’s greatest inventors and thinkers were both realistic and optimistic people.
When I’m being realistic with someone, I’m not trying to put them down or belittle their dream – but rather I want to help them get the best possible odds of achieving it.
For example if I have an unfit friend who wants to enter a martial arts tournament, I’d advise him to be REALISTIC about it, spend a few months training first, and then GO FOR IT.
Thanks Chris. I always enjoy your outlook on how to turn seemingly negative energy into something constructive –
At Xmas I told my 6 year old brother, “I’m asking Santa for a reindeer for xmas.” He said, “Is that really going to happen?” I was kinda sad by that, but it was also kinda funny. You can’t pull anything over on him 😉
I could hear my dad’s voice in it.
My dad is always telling me to get real. I’ve been taking it as a dare my whole life, and I constantly surprise him. Sometimes I think I just do it to prove him wrong…
I love the book ‘The Soul’s Code; In Search of Character and Calling”. Mr Hillman or maybe its Dr. Hillman – suggests that we choose our life and therefore, naysayers are our antagonists daring us on toward who we will become.
You want unconventional? There must be something you admire in Charlie Sheen, to even mention that disgusting piece of filth’s name, and THAT is disturbing. He is nothing more than a woman beater, end of story, and any media interest (your’s included) that stoops to typing his name colludes to normalizing violence, devaluing women, and dehumanizing victimized sex workers. Men- YOU included Chris Whateveryourname is- deride the same women that they chase sexually. Why? because they want and need women, and women never want or need them. This arrangement puts men in a position of great weakness, so they lash out in violence. You mention in your text you hope Sheen could rise above cocaine and hookers….as if he had more inherent value, and was degrading himself with drugs and prostitutes. As if. I would feel bad for the cockroach that had to dine with that shmuck. What a disgusting infantile lot you boys are. REALLY.
‘have already tipped the odds in your favor simply by daring to believe in something’- Great words Chris! Inspiring and thought provoking as usual. To hell with all the cynics in the world.
Thanks for giving me the courage and motivation to continue living my ‘unrealistic, grandiose life.’
I love this post Chris. Follow your dreams and do it, as you are responsible for your own life 🙂
The word “realistic” is misused to refer to what people *believe* is realistic, rather than how the world operates.
It’s important to make the distinction between reality and socially-constructed illusions that masquerade as reality. We should respect the former and ignore the latter.
To completely ignore reality and “being realistic” (in the true sense of the word) can lead to high hopes and shattered dreams. Not because we can’t achieve our goals, but because we haven’t understood how reality functions.
We didn’t reach the moon by ignoring reality. A number of hard-working scientists invested a great deal of time and energy to understand how gravity works and engineers had to construct the space shuttle accordingly.
“Nature to be commanded must be obeyed.” ~ Francis Bacon
You are so correct (!) about the importance and effect of the words one uses.
Reality is – fortunately – malleable! This does not change the force and great contribution of your article.
To great futures, imagined and unimagined !
Great post. I would add, “grow up.” I was told this when I was working, going to school and raising a child. I once delivered a graduation speech where I told the students that adults will say, grow up when they mean give up. It seems that if I’m having fun and doing what I want, that is somehow not grown up. Many of my students seemed to have given up by age 16 and I always wondered how can that be. Young people need to hear your words of wisdom.
Great piece Chris! There’s tremendous pressure to conform in so many areas of life and sometimes at very subtle levels. Thanks for continually being a champion for those of us who refuse!
Thank you for this.
Realism is stoicism by another name, and stoicism is negativity in disguise.
There are narrow minds everywhere, blinkered, bumping into each other. So few embrace imagination, the key to progress and growth, internally and externally.
Here’s to an unrealistic existence. No, really.
Wow, I’m impressed you started an ashram. I don’t know where I got the idea of “move to Tibet and start an ashram”. Perhaps there is something to be said for mental telepathy.
But, it’s good to hear from someone who did go start something overseas. According to most of my family and friends:
U.S. = safety. Rest of world= Why would you want to live in a socialist country? YOU’LL DIE HORRIBLY WAITING THREE DAYS FOR A DOCTOR!
How do they define realistic or unrealistic anyway? Is something realistic because they can do it? And if something hasn’t been done before? Is it unrealistic?
Decades ago, a touchscreen computer is something that can only be found in Sci-Fi novels and movies. Now, you’ll find them everywhere you look. It’s the same with flying cars, moon exploration, and so on.
I think that when people tell you that what you plan is “not realistic”, they are more scared of you succeeding than you failing.
Great post Chris, as always.
I have a poem in which has the line: Define reality, Define reality. You cannot define it and sound sane. I think that everyone here has experienced those moments when you feel uplifted in a way where anything is possible, you feel like why not? This could be all an illusion anyways and I create my own, in fact for the proof all I need to do is look around. I bet none of you can look around and not admit that you created this or dreamed it up sometime in your past. For some reason we have to keep reminding ourselves through reading, seeing, believing, talking in places like this that we have the power in our own minds and energy to create anything. The reason not everyone does is because the weight of the naysayers and negativity in the world is paid too much attention to. It is hard not to when it’s in your face all the time. I am thankful for places like this so that it balances out and I know there are people like you guys that exist. It’s inspiring.
“You want unconventional? There must be something you admire in Charlie Sheen, to even mention that disgusting piece of filth’s name, and THAT is disturbing. He is nothing more than a woman beater, end of story, and any media interest (your’s included) that stoops to typing his name colludes to normalizing violence, devaluing women, and dehumanizing victimized sex workers. Men- YOU included Chris Whateveryourname is- deride the same women that they chase sexually… What a disgusting infantile lot you boys are. REALLY.”
Quoting what someone says is not supporting their character or deeds. A person can be right about something even if they are disgraceful.
Get your knickers out their twist.
I once observed a women in a supermarket with a young son hanging on to the end of her trolley. She told him to get down because he could hurt himself on the shelves. He wouldn’t obey, so she purposefully bumped the trolley into the shelves, he got hurt, he cried, and then obeyed.
It’s one thing to resist the cynics and naysayers and not believe them when they call you unrealistic, but how do you resist someone you love who is prepared to sabotage things for you to prove you wrong?
Very well stated, Chris. Also, realistic and practical tend to get used a little too interchangeably I find. The point is, the definition of realistic is infinitely malleable so we can bend it to our needs and desires, thereby exerting our unique influence on it.
Great post Chris! What always amazes me is how a simple deviation from the norm even seems “grandiose” and “unrealistic” to someone who has the mindset you are talking about…
The truly sad thing, which you talk about in your book is that the life people feel is so “realistic” is really quite “unrealistic” but that’s the life people have been sold. Unknowingly, they are becoming those grown up bridge jumpers you talk about. It’s deemed realistic by the masses but people have been living that way for so long and finding the reality at the end of it isn’t what they had hoped for….
So glad I found this blog. Yes, I can relate to being labeled “Not Realistic”. As an intuitive life coach, I teach others about the law of attraction and do believe we create our own realities. What I teach my clients is that it doesn’t matter how realistic it seems to others, what matters is how aligned your energy is with what the reality you want to create. I believe we can create “unrealistic” realities if our energy is aligned with it. Some people have difficulty creating what to many people may seem like an “average” or “normal” reality because their energy isn’t aligned with that either (like many celebrities or creative types). Some people are much more aligned with “unrealistic” realities than others for various reasons.
Ah, Chris, this one really struck a chord with me, because I’ve often been the one saying that something isn’t realistic! I’m the logical/analytical type who is an aspiring dreamer/creative type! Perhaps this is why I’ve married a musician and an artist! It’s become clear to me that this curse of reality has much to do with fear of the unknown for me – there’s safety and security in being realistic – or so we think! And, for many who tell us that we need to face reality, they are usually unhappy with their own choices and wish for the faith to take a leap into their authentic life. I’ve found that resisting reality causes a lot of angst – what works for me is to accept reality for what it is and work to re-frame that reality into a perspective that fits my vision.
Another awesome post, the most realistic post i’ve ever read! Many from my surroundings says i’m unrealistic most of the time, especially my loved ones (my bf especially). And that i don’t have a logical thinking and at times ppl says i’m manic due to grandiose thoughts. Now i know why…..that’s simply because “their model sucks!” cheers!
Well spoken, er, written! This one should be inscribed on a gold tablet. You cut right to the core of what it means to have a dream that inspires you. Someone else doesn’t get it? Doesn’t share the enthusiasm? So what? It’s not their dream. Follow your bliss, as Joseph Campbell said.
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