On Reality

During nominations and election season, there had been a flood of denial. In each personal conversation, I’d listen. The one sure thing to be left out and that I would repeat: We have to accept the possibility that these nominations reflect some form of our reality.

As the day came, many of us had this conversation. I’d say “This is possible.” The number and level of “No way! Never!” reactions in my anecdotal subjective number of conversations was (understandably) delusion.

Observing the stages of grief, I open social media today to what I guess is a viral meme. This is what happens when you’re fans of imaginative and fun people. Sure, these “What if” scenarios between now and inaugaration are possible. Seeing it all together, it’s funny to read it as a group mind of denial.

One price of freedom is that we’re free to make mistakes. Free to fail as individuals, as groups, and as a society.

If this subject interests you too, here are my favorite books on the subject of reality and fact based thinking/habits:

Decisive by Dan and Chip Heath
Predictions are often wrong. Our best bet for informed decision making is to consider every possibility. And also consider that there will be an outcome that we didn’t guess. Respect the reality of the situation.

Learned Optimism by Dr. Martin Seligman
As opposed to “learned helplessness” where individuals believe they have no ability to change their situation. Think of a bird in a cage with an open door. This is a realistic view of optimism. Accept all of the facts that we can’t control and stop focusing on them. Most negative thoughts are less personal, less permanent, and have less impact than our imaginations allow. We also have more ability to create positive situations if we’re not focused on aspects that we can’t control. Focus on what you can do, not what you can’t.

How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie
Worry is fairly useless. This book is mostly a series of stories, some terrible and some happy. In every story, worry did nothing to help the situation. You can skip from issue to problem-solving decisions without the step of mind-numbing worry in between. Live in the present. Prepare (Again!) to accept the work. Collect actual facts, weigh them, and act. Expect problems and try to benefit from them.

Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin
This book touches on the subject of neighborhoods and communities. The people around us shape our habits. Our habits also shape the people around us. This book chronicles Gretchen’s own experiments in both personal responsibility and letting go.

On Authority

I tend to believe others are equal. Even to accept a leader, manager or teacher, I view those as an equal role with different tasks. It’s a role of motivation that we agree to. If an authority figure doesn’t seem connected to their key motivation (a teacher to give information, a manager to coordinate workflow), the system should be questioned. University of Chicago Psychologist Sarah Gaither found that that writing imagining about our roles caused higher scores on creativity tests compared to a control group. Understanding our own power to create change is an act of imagination itself.

Yes those in authority have real power. Others will follow for all kinds of boring reasons. Some are just doing their jobs, others just tend to follow the laws, others are looking for any reason to be crappy people, and plenty just don’t know differently. Concerns and thoughts are real. Hope this helps in your journeys to navigate the world.

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I’m a graphic designer (portfolio), classical pianist and artist in Baltimore, MD. I host the Uncanny Creativity Podcast helping to demystify the creative process and creator of Funlooksfun.com, an online shop for apparel and games. Twitter: @sketchee

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