The more life experience we have the more this becomes a question for us. We can look back and see that sometimes our interpretation of events and decision making was flawed. It makes us wonder about the extent to which we are grounded in reality.
The current recession is making a lot of us wonder whether we were delusional in the ‘good times’ when so many bad financial and business decisions were made. Therefore, while this is a difficult question it is very topical.
A dictionary definition of ‘Reality’ is interesting :
” the state of things as they are or appear to be, rather than as one might wish them to be”
The definition is interesting because it shows that the concept of reality is not as objective as we would like to think i.e. ‘ things as they are or appear to be ‘. With the best will in the world we can all look at the same ‘reality’ and see different things because of our different perspectives. So in a sense it is possible to argue that there is no objective reality only our subjective interpretation of what we see.
That said it would serve us well to be as grounded as possible when making major decisions by, for example :
– checking verifiable facts and testing any assumptions we are making
– not rushing major decisions
– asking ourselves whether we are seeing what we want to see i.e. ignoring inconvenient facts.
– is there a risk that our heart might rule our head ( ok as long as we assess the consequences)
– seeking out and being open to other perspectives
– ask ourselves if we are being overly influenced by fashion/general trends/others opinions
– looking ahead to the consequences of actions we are contemplating
– asking what kind of outcomes typically arise in similar situations
– be honest as to our track record in dealing with similar situations in the past
– asking ourselves if we have overly optimistic or pessimistic in our interpretation of events
– asking if we are good at evaluating risks/have we a balanced attitude to risk taking
The message from the above is that we should try to be as objective as possible in assessing the range of outcomes that can arise from our actions, otherwise our decisions will be based on ‘illusions’ (‘mistaken ideas or beliefs’), leading to consequences that we could not anticipate because of our delusional state.
In all of the above we should not be too hard on ourselves. Hindsight is and will remain the most exact of all sciences !