Happiness 101: “Let reality be reality”


Little pockets of wise insightfullness are not usually found in publications like The Guardian. Until they are, that is.

Here’s a lovely little piece on accepting things for what they are.

Often, it’s more stressful to try to zone out from [unpleasant situations] than to accept them for what they are. This first struck me forcefully when I started running without headphones. True, listening to music or podcasts did distract me from the discomforts of physical exertion, but it also served as a constant subliminal reinforcement of the notion that exertion was something unpleasant from which I needed distracting.

With the earbuds off, there’s at least a chance that I’ll actually enjoy the running. Research suggests even intense physical pain can be reduced through paying mindful attention to it; by contrast, mental gymnastics to distract yourself from the situation you’re in never definitively works – because you are, despite all your inner efforts, in that situation.

“Let reality be reality,” said the ancient Chinese sage Lao-Tzu, who admittedly didn’t have to deal with a gruelling commute, not least because he may never have existed. All the same, he’s right: “acceptance” needn’t mean resigning yourself to fate; but it does mean stopping pretending things aren’t how they are. You’re on a late-running, scandalously overcrowded train, and you hate it. So quit your job! Or don’t quit your job. But don’t imagine that half-quitting it – quitting on the inside, but not the outside – will help. The external world is annoyingly stubborn like that.”

Indeed, it is.

2 thoughts on “Happiness 101: “Let reality be reality””

  1. Besides work physicality, I add onto it with long walks and some running. Why? Well, I guess it is good for you, but I quit smoking a couple weeks ago and it really helps reduce the stress and such. And I eat a lot of little portions of maftoul with garlic cloves. I don’t know if that helps, you know, maybe I just love it so. Shit, I’d join ISIS for a cig right now. They’d probably kill me smoking, though, along with other things. Bastards all around, that lot. Terrible plan. Ok, don’t know what I’m going on about now. Need a walk. Wish me luck on my cigi abstinence.

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