I wanted to talk a little about rationalism and realism today.
For many of you, you are facing some really difficult times and probably some tough decisions, and right now, the way you view the world, (psychologically speaking) can have a significant impact on the way you make decisions about your business and the work you do.
So, for today’s thoughts, I need a prop. The glass of water in this picture. You will know this question: are you a glass half full person, or a glass half empty person. This being an analogy for whether you consider yourself an optimist or a pessimist. Instagram is full of this notion and often, it can lean towards what I call an ‘overly’ optimistic sensibility. You know, lots of motivational quotes written in cursive on soft focus sunsets and landscapes.
Now I’m not here to piss on that bonfire – if that works for you, that’s great. But, I am here to say that the glass doesn’t only have two options; half full or half empty, optimism or pessimism. There is a third. REALISM.
This is a clear glass, which in itself is basically silica heated to a very high temperature and then formed into a vessel. It contains approximately 180ml of a chemical substance in a liquid state containing one oxygen and two hydrogen atoms.
That is the information I have in front of me and I can use this information to make decisions and/or come up with ideas. It has no bias. It is, in fact, what it is.
I raise this, because both optimism and pessimism are the opposites of that, they are judgemental biases. And biases don’t help you make great decisions. Biases aren’t based on evidence and they are inherently superficial. You might feel them strongly and of course, that doesn’t make you ‘wrong’ for feeling those biases. Realism and rationalism do however, significantly support positive wellbeing. There has been a lot of sociological, psychological and economy based research into just how much better realism and rationalism are for crucial decision making and for overall wellbeing.
Personally, by being a rationalist and a realist, I am able to navigate my life and plan and adapt my work, based on the evidence I have at my disposal. I feel in control, in a world that often feels out of control. Importantly, when I feel myself leaning towards being pessimistic, often in an attempt to manage my expectations by believing something will be shit so that if it turns out shit I can say ‘See, I said it would be shit’, or if (on the rare occasion) I feel a little over optimistic because I’m so desperate for it to turn out the way I want, I take a breath and I look at the information I have, assess it and repeat back what I know and work out what I can affect and what I have no control over. I’ve never been happier than I am now. Fact.
So, I’d like to suggest that the glass is neither half full nor half empty. It is simply information which you can use to inform your thoughts, decisions and ideas.