Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Promise vs Reality

Most of us spend a lot of our lives imagining how things are going to work out. We mix our hopes, dreams, fears and needs with the information we get from our senses and our minds create promises…messages and images about how life/experiences will turn out.

Let’s be clear about this, a promise is “an assurance that a particular thing will happen.” So, our minds are telling us how life will be.

Promises are both good and bad. A date promises you you’ll get a kiss at the end of the evening, that’s good. But, let’s not forget a parent promising that you’ll a spanking for what you said to Aunt Sarah at the Fourth of July picnic.

A lot of times those promises our minds make don’t work out the way we hoped. What happens is reality. The reality is that you ticked your date off by spilling a drink on her at the movie and you didn’t get that kiss…orrrrr, mom got busy when you got home from the picnic and that spanking slipped her mind (whew!).

I’m using examples from the young periods of our lives because that’s when the whole Promise vs Reality conflict begins. Expectations are types of promises…what our minds promise us will happen. It’s a survival tactic our brains have developed through the history of humankind (ex. that loud noise and that stinky stuff on the ground tells me there’s probably a tiger on the other side of that big rock…so let’s head back to the cave).

The problem is that we often depend so strongly on the promises, the expectations, that we overlook the reality. We don’t expect an experience to be wonderful, but it turns out that way; or, all the evidence tells us a life experience will be great but it consistently isn’t.

In fact, we’ll continue to whack ourselves in the head because our imagination/culture/family/friends/tribe say this is the way it’s supposed to be when the reality is that not whacking yourself in the head is a better thing.

I’ve said this before but it bears repeating, former General Electric CEO Jack Welch used to open meetings with the question, “What’s the reality?”

When you look around in your life what’s your reality? What promises/experiences did you expect that you aren’t happening? Are you fooling yourself into believing that they are happening because you believe so strongly that they should? Why?

What’s happening in your life that’s good? Is it what you expected? Whether you expected it, or wanted it to happen, if it’s good…it’s good. Pay attention and appreciate it.

Promise vs Reality…the happiest people are those who appreciate their positive realities. The happiest people are also those who understand their negative realities and either realistically accept them or start changing them.

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