It is generally regarded that we have only two options available to us when it comes to attitude, that being pessimism or optimism. For a long time now I have rejected this duality as I believe we are far more complex creatures and that life is never simply black and white.
In fact I have always found it incredibly uncomfortable being around people with black and white thinking as they tend to have some sort of god complex, a very narrow view of life and often are very inexperienced about the world and the many different people in it.
Over the years I have developed an increasing awareness and appreciation for being a realist.
To my mind realists are rare creatures that can bring a brand of reasoning to a situation where they are not tainted by the constant need to be positive or negative. They are arbiters of impartial thinking and reasoning; Especially in this positivity obsessed world.
Realism allows us to draw from our experiences and understanding, whilst still reminding us that we can’t know all the answers in life and that some things are beyond our understanding. I like to use realistic thinking when it comes to people and situations as it has aided me much more than either optimism or pessimism has. It also allows me to build better plans for the future.
Proponents of realistic thinking have gained the unnecessary label of being buzz kills by society and tend to be rejected by both the optimists and the pessimists due to not following either paths. However I find the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks when it comes to living a fuller life.
realism is also the peaceful and less emotional option that people find hard to embrace. For example, pessimists must constantly endure living life with drama and sadness by their side. They seem to live in constant fear and disappointment in life events and people. Conversely, optimism requires large amounts of energy and enthusiasm to constantly put them in a state of joy and positivity. I have no doubt that this type of elated state taps even the most stoic optimist and then what? What if life doesn’t always make you the winner or the most enjoyable person at the table or the Centre of attention?
Depression and existential crisis must constantly loom for the optimist and they probably have to fight harder than most people when those feeling come along.
Which is why I thoroughly enjoy the benefits of looking at this life in a peaceful and thoughtful way. Realism offers far more comfort than any other branch of thinking for me. It is especially helpful as someone who is health challenged too! I don’t have to constantly coerce myself into fitting in with everyone else, or show that I am trying to reject all my boundaries or challenges with a sunny disposition that is pleasing to everyone else. No. I can navigate my life in a peaceful way knowing I only have to take one step at a time to be valid.
It helps me prepare for the future in ways that more optimistic people never seem to achieve. I don’t have to cling to the best case scenarios or worst case scenarios. I am free to take things one day at a time. I get to say things like “I really don’t know, I can only wait and see. ”
In short, I don’t have to burden myself with unhelpful thinking or expectations.
Being a realist has made a huge difference to relationships. I no longer cling to one sided or difficult relationships anymore. I also don’t have to make excuses for my behavior or for others. I don’t have to create a narrative of my life which conforms to what people expect or want because I am firmly ensconced with various facts and realities.
The downside is that many optimists and everyday people can make the wrongful assumption that realists are just pessimists in disguise. Even doctors can be quick to think you must be depressed simply because you reject their appraisal on your life or your treatment and favor a more realistic approach. Being a realistic patient and an advocate for your own life may find you having to face a lot of unnecessary ignorance and bias but because I take the position of a realist it helps that I don’t have to expend vast amounts of emotional or physical energy defending my own position or beliefs because I find being a realist is far more peaceful.
Also, I don’t need people to agree with me or my thinking thus I don’t feel validated or disappointed with how people respond. Realistically people can respond in countless different ways that really has more to do with them than it has to do with me. Realists can see behaviors more clearly and without ego or narcissistic views distorting our experiences.
We can judge less and learn more.
Peace and acceptance is at the core of my realistic perspective and it allows me to continue through my life in ways that are not governed by emotions or stressful thoughts. There is an old saying that every day is a gift and I believe a person who is comfortable at living life moment to moment without emotional projection or bias allows us to enjoy those moments for what they truly are.