Dr Peggy Marshall

Choosing the Most Valuable Reality

Choosing the Most Valuable Reality

“By changing your mind, you change everything.”

Dr. Peggy MarshallIn the days of “fake news” and fast moving social media, it can be difficult to discern what is true and factual and what is opinion or even made up. However, it is up to us to “choose the most valuable reality”.  Shawn Achor coined this advice in his chapter on Reality Architecture in his book “Before Happiness”. To the reader, the phrase reality architecture may seem hard to understand but we actually do create our reality from the meanings we assign to the information we take in. Achor shares that two people can experience the identical situation and yet have completely different perceptions of the situation.  This is due to our worldviews and filters.  Our worldviews are established through our relationships with our parents, siblings, friends, communities as well as a host of other influences.  How we construct our reality also impacts how others perceive us.  There is good news here as Sharon Salzberg in “The Force of Kindness”  shares that our way of looking at life is not fixed or simply determined rather we can grow and expand our vision as we perceive things more accurately or from a different angle.

Numerous authors have also written about this phenomenon from Wayne Dyer in “Change your Thoughts, Change Your Life and When You Believe it, You Will See it”  to Carol Dweck in “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success”.   Dyer encourages us to guard our thoughts as we create from our thinking.  Negative thinking can lead us to actually creating a self-fulfilling prophesy which brings about exactly what we don’t want.  In agreement with Achor, Dweck shares that mindsets determine what is taking place in people’s heads, guiding how the individual interprets each and every situation.  Briefly, the fixed mindset individual’s self-talk focuses on what’s wrong, what cannot happen, and judging.  Conversely, the open mindset individuals are also examining information and situations yet are thinking about how to learn and grow from what is uncovered.

Achor provides strategies for improving our ability to open up to multiple realities.  First, he encourages us to recognize that there are actually alternative realities.  Think about the people you know who always choose to see the negative in every situation.  They have a very closed mindset and typically cause others to move away from them based upon that negativity. Given these individuals could open to a different perspective by focusing on the potential that there could something positive about the situation, they could improve interactions with others.  Achor also invites to create different vantage points for ourselves by allowing ourselves to see a given situation from a different point of view.  One exercise I have used in the past with clients is when they are upset with someone I invite them tell the story from that other person’s point of view.  If they are able to be completely honest about what the other person might be experiencing, they often shift from frustration to understanding.

Another way to add vantage points is shared by Gary Klein in “Seeing What Others Don’t”.  Gary offers that when we follow a prescribed way of thinking and evaluating information we can very often miss the insights that can guide new opportunities.  Instead he challenges us to think about connections, curiosities, and coincidences.  We leverage connection when we look for new and novel ways that things can fit together.  What are the unlikely partnerships that can shift our thinking?  This happened in the field of engineering and medicine to create a discipline biomedical engineering.  Next are there any coincidences showing up in our lives?  When working with clients, I share a personal rule.  If I hear something three times from different sources, it’s time to take action. Finally, what are you curious about?  What does not seem to fit for you?  If you are trying something new and following the process laid out by someone else and the process isn’t working for you it might be time to become a little more curious.  I began my first career as a health educator.  It was my worldview at the time that everyone needs to know what their body needs and not just a prescriptive recommendation from an outside source.  That was 30 years ago.  We now realize that people can have intolerance’s to gluten and dairy which would become exacerbated by diets that are recommended by highly credible sources which include grain and dairy.  Think about the ideas and rules that have become part of your life.  Consider what does not seem to fit for you and do a little research yourself!

Seeing things differently takes a lot of time, effort and reflection.  With brains that prefer habitual responses to events, we have to guard against remaining in the same pattern of thoughts.  Achor suggests changing our daily patterns to give ourselves the opportunity to break out of these patterns.  He also encourages us to ensure that we give our bodies adequate sleep.  Canfield in “The Success Principles” supports this adage due to the process our sub-consciousness goes through to solve problems that we struggle with during the day.  How many times have you woken up with a new idea to solve a problem or experienced a flash of insight while walking or driving to work?

Although choosing the most valuable reality may take more energy from you, it will definitely make a change in your relationships and potentially your own happiness.  It is by sifting through not only the opinions and beliefs that we hold most dearly but also understanding that others who influence us may not have the entire picture and that we can come to new states of understanding if we open to alternative views!

To Your Success!

Dr. Peggy


Shawn Achor

Sharon Salzberg

 Wayne Dyer

Gary Klein

 Jack Canfield