Sunday, June 23, 2013

The importance of being a realist

Nervous people live in either the past or the future. When we are in lowered tones, we live in the past, rehashing what was, what could have been. When we are in fearful temper, we agonize over the future, over what may transpire.

I often find myself worrying about what lies ahead. I fear a plane crashing, a major change at work, a loss of income, a serious illness—all potential future events. Dr. Low would remind me that finding peace involves living in the moment, not working up a situation in the “preview.”

Dr. Low also emphasizes realism. A realist doesn’t fret over major life disruptions that realistically have little likelihood or that are unavoidable at any rate. For example, a realist acknowledges that, yes, all of us will die someday, but he doesn’t spend his life worrying about how that could happen. A realist doesn’t try to predict the future and finds happiness and inner peace by living in the moment.

For nervous people, being a realist is challenging. But when I stop and simply listen to the wind or my cat breathing I instantly feel relief from being able to relieve myself, even momentarily, of the immense burden of trying to worry about—and ultimately trying to control—the future. Being a realist takes practice, and I have a long way to go. Yet simply acknowledging the value of living in the present certainly reflects more realistic thinking.