It is better to be a realist than a happyest (noun: meaning an individual that values happiness above all else). The realist sees things as they are and, armed with this information, has the power to influence things. The happy fall easily into complacency and inaction.
The happy are vastly superior to the unhappy, so with those as the only two options, choose happy every time. Those are never the only two options. Happiness and realism are not mutually exclusive.
The realist is something different. Being a realist is a condition that far too many pessimists claim. Don't mistake narrow minded certainty with realism. It is fear and complacency, masquerading as realism.
The following are some quotes from Robert Greene, who is a boss.
"Realism is an ideal that we must aspire to. The highest point of human rationality."
"The real poetry and beauty in life come from an intense relationship with reality, in all it's aspects."
"See dreamers in their true light. The dreamers are those who misread the actual state of affairs and act upon their emotions. The realists are the real inventors and innovators. Men and women of imagination. But their imagination is in close contact with the environment, with reality. They are strong enough to see the world as it is, including their own personal inadequacies. "
The only conversation that is relevant in discussing the realist is what is real. Adding optimism or pessimism is irrelevant. It isn't part of the conversation.
26 Helpful Tips For Practicing Intense Realism.
Universal Rule: See Things As They Are.
A. Never analyze through emotion, only logic.
Emotion clouds your ability to see things as they are. It colors things with your feelings, your beliefs, your preconceptions. Reality doesn't give a damn about any of these and will punish you if you think it does.
B. Certainty is your enemy.
This is a constant battle, because certainty feels nice. It's more comfortable. Find ways to get some of it so that you can feel sane. But when it comes to your analysis of the world, discard certainty. As soon as you reach a point of certainty on a subject you die. There is nothing left to learn, the game stops. This perceived certainty is never accurate. It is a temporary fugue state where you think you've figured it all out. After a few seconds, or moments, or generations it will be discovered that you were mistaken. The sooner the better.
C. Curiosity is your ally.
Become the child you once were again. Ask lots of questions. Look at the world in wonder. Expose yourself to the awesome. Ask why. Play with things. You have to get your hands in the mud to find out what things are. Dive in.
D. Expand your perspective.
Fueled by curiosity. Now you can see the bigger picture, or at least glimpse it. Know the entire playing field. Know the rules. All of them. Don't settle for a good idea of how things work, develop an intimate knowledge of the constituent pieces and figure out exactly how things are, then figure out why and how. The when and where come next.
E. The glass is twice its required capacity.
It's never about being an optimist or a pessimist. When the reality you discover confirms someones bias, they will call you an optimist. When it contradicts it, they will call you a pessimist. Ignore this nonsense. Labeling reality as good or bad is futile. It is what it is. Find out what it is and you'll have a chance at influencing it towards what you want.
The glass isn't half full or half empty, it's just twice its required capacity.
F. Place the highest value on truth.
Truth = What things are. False information that you believe to be true can ruin you. Never trust single sources of knowledge. Always check the facts and ask around. With truth anything is possible. With false information you're dead before you begin. Everything else comes second to truth.
G. Accuracy vs Precision.
You need a healthy marriage of both. Accurate thinking means that you are thinking about the right things (you're in the ball park). Precise thinking means you are thinking about things right (you're identifying what's in this ball park). When you can be in the right ball park and clearly identifying the things around you.... Profit.
If you're accurate but not precise you get sloppy results. If you're precise, but not accurate you get irrelevant results. Always ask if you're looking at the right things? And are you looking at things right? How else could we do it?
H. Dig Deeper.
Most people are satisfied with a surface level understanding. When a question comes up, their brain rushes to find an answer that works. Open loops are frustrating to our ego.
Overcome that. Dig as deep as you can. Dig to the root. You may never find it, but the process of digging will bring you more truth.
I. Know your environment.
Make a practice out of seeing more of what's around you, everywhere you are. Count how many people are in a room, how many tiles are on the floor/ceiling, how many colors are there. Observe the body language, moods, and fashion of the people in your environment. Know what time of day, day of week, season, location you are in. Know what's nearby where you are.
It's shocking how few people take the time to do this. The world gets a lot bigger and more exciting when you take the time to learn what's in it. Your ability to create expands. The likelihood that you don't die also increases when you know where the nearest hospital and police station is.
J. Behavioral Flexibility Always Wins.
Don't get stuck in routine and habits. These smoke screens can distract you from reality and make you believe the wrong stuff. Mix it up. Change your mind about things. Go through your day backwards. Try the opposite habit. Free yourself from the trappings of orderly routine and you will be able to see more.
K. Detach Yourself From The Thing You Are Looking At.
Intense realism requires detachment. If certain facts blind you, you won't see the rest. You must learn by doing, and by observing, and by reviewing, and by reading, and by instructing. That's the only way to see more.
This detachment involves both emotional detachment and sometimes detachment of perspective.
Don't miss the forest for the trees. Pull yourself out from time to time and look at things from the eagles perspective.
L. Look at the opposite.
Reversal of perspective, or the attempt to, is illuminating, it reveals truth. If nothing else it reveals what you think the opposite of your position is, and what you think your position is. This is some of the most valuable information you can gain. Draw similarities between your view and the opposite.
It is often humbling to discover how similar your position is to the opposite position. Everyone believes 99% of the same things and we kill each other over the other 1%.
M. Follow things down to the logical conclusion.
Don't settle for a plan that gets you through a few weeks or few months. Take things to the end. Ask, "where does this lead? where does this end?" Keep going. Imagine further than you could possibly know and guess. The guesses tell you something.
N. Always Ask, "What Don't I Know?"
Always. Then guess, then learn about your guesses.
Bonus, ask "what don't they know?" When you think you have some superior knowledge on a topic to someone else.
What you don't know can and will hurt you. Spend your life making this category as small as possible.
O. Doubt It.
Never take things at face value. Always try to see through it to understand what is going on. You can do this privately, in your head, without involving the person you're doubting (see tip Y).
Doubt yourself and your own conclusions. Certainty is the enemy. Resolve to be unresolved.
"People wish to be settled; only as far as they are unsettled is there any hope for them." -Ralph Waldo Emerson
P. Learn to defend opinions that you don't hold, or that are the opposite of your views.
This is good practice and it also allows you to better know your eventual opponents. Belief is active and disbelief is simply an active anti-belief. You're not allowed to hold it unless you can defend it, see next tip.
Q. If you cannot defend your own opinions or beliefs, abandon them.
Life is so much easier this way and you can get to better truths faster. The truth shall set you free. If you can't defend your belief it's probably because it's not true. So drop it and get to truth. Don't fear the unknown so much. It will be OK. If your belief is true and you can't defend it it just means that you're either stupid or lazy. You become smarter by ditching the belief (or at least you hide your stupidness some).
R. The answer is in the question.
People reach conclusions too quickly. A question, a google, an answer is the pace of modern life. You see nothing when you do this. Keep asking questions, question your questions, answers will fall out along the way, but the best answers just open a new avenue of questions. Keep asking them.
Let other people find the quick easy answer and be satisfied in their narrow perspective. You have to go deep to be an intense realist.
The hardest part of learning is figuring out the right questions to ask.
S. Non-judgmental Acceptance.
The realist will often find things out that are inconvenient to them. It is no use resisting the facts that come. Accept them and live in the new reality. Even when it hurts. The world is actually awesome and it's amazing that we're even alive, so the truth won't hurt for too long.
Resisting the truths because it's uncomfortable to you makes you a coward and a loser. Lying makes you a scumbag.
T. Sharpen Your Eye.
This is a physical practice. Turn your eyes into spears that see through the veneer of reality. Look deep into people's eyes and study their entire body. Where you look is what you see. Learn to control your gaze and gaze deep.
U. The ultimate currency is true information.
Knowing things brings power. People want true information. By being an intense realist you'll quickly achieve a wealth of true information. This makes you immensely valuable to people. This = influence.
V. Learn to strategically push people's buttons.
Sometimes the fastest way to the truth is to aggravate people. A lot of people politely lie all the time. If you want the truth, be aggressive. It throws people off balance and causes them to show their true cards. Use with caution, sometimes people kill people.
W. Tap Into Aggregators.
Find sources with a strong reputation for aggregating true information. You don't have to do all the research yourself for everything.
I use Techmeme, Circa, and Reddit for this as far as websites go. There is also a book by Kevin Kelly called Cool Tools that is an awesome aggregation of tools. I follow smart people on twitter and check out what they're saying. This exposes me to a lot of new, cool stuff with almost zero work on my part.
X. Be Unassuming.
I mean this in the literal definition. Be modest and unpretentious. Don't throw the information you gain in people's faces. Don't brag. Don't call attention to how smart you are. If you're good at being a realist, people will find out on their own if they need to. If they don't need to, they'll be offended by learning something, so avoid teaching them. This isn't for you to decide, just shhh....
A common mistake people make is to think that because they think they know something true it is their duty to inform everyone else. Spreading truth is useful, no doubt. But imposing your views on people that don't care to hear them is just d-baggy.
The next level after unassuming. Secrecy. Don't tell people you're a realist (I'm breaking this rule right now). Don't use your process of being a realist as a move in an argument. Don't chastise other people for not being a realist.
The situation of being a realist is more valuable when no one knows you are. It's a secret weapon, like being funny. Funny people don't talk about how they're so funny. They just do it.
Making a big show out of your realist just makes people resentful. There is no moral superiority that comes from being a realist, you might still be wrong no matter how "realistic" you are. The superiority is that of information. With better information you can make better decisions and win more.
Z. To find out what you think, write.
This is essential and a good place to end. I write to find out what I think. I don't know what it is before I write. Had anyone asked me for tips about being a realist before I wrote this post I could have came up with 4-5. I came up with 26 by writing 40 things that I do and deleted 14 that weren't so good (or combining them to make one).
It is the rare person that can actually think without writing and think deeply about topics. That is a skill that I don't possess and I only know maybe 2 people that can, both of them are writers.
Before writing this I could have roughly explained what being a realist means to me, now I can explain it in depth, and cite this as a source.
What does being a realist mean to me. It simply means that you do your very best to see things as they are, without bias. These 26 tips will hopefully help you to see things more clearly. I left out about 100, because I haven't discovered them yet.
What do you think?