The Healthy Management of Reality
Sculpting reality is a massive collaborative project in which we are all involved. Some of the most powerful tools for shaping our personal reality are thoughts and ideas. The author has been a professor of clinical psychology for 40 years. This brief book contains the thoughts and ideas he has used to reduce unnecessary suffering in his patients and elicit the good in his own life. More
The Healthy Management of Reality describes how we can “sculpt” our personal reality to improve emotional and physical health. For the last forty years, I have been a professor of psychology in the School of Medicine of the University of California, San Francisco. I have treated patients at San Francisco General Hospital (now Zuckerberg San Francisco General) and taught psychologists- and psychiatrists-in-training how to conduct cognitive-behavioral therapy for depression. This brief book describes what I have learned in terms of ways to gain a greater sense of control over our lives. Earlier books I have coauthored (for example, “Control Your Depression” and “Controlling Your Drinking”) describe the processes of self-control that are useful in treating these health problems. However, the word “control” conveys a sense of total control to some readers. Therefore, in this shorter book, I talk about the healthy “management” of reality. Because we do not have complete control over our lives, the most reasonable goal is to mindfully choose how to manage our personal situations in ways that lead to the healthiest results for ourselves and those around us.
We all live in two realities: “internal reality” is our mental reality, including our thoughts and feelings; “external reality” is our physical reality, including our physical body and social environment. Both realities are incredibly important for our well-being. And both are continually being shaped by the choices we make. The Healthy Management of Reality has chapters on how to manage these two realities in order to reduce unnecessary suffering, how to mold our past-yet-to-be to create the future we want, how to influence the probability that what we want will happen, and how to shape both the world within our mind and the physical world we share with others.
From the Introduction:
“…each of us finds himself or herself in a specific time and place, with a limited amount of resources. The question is how to increase the chances that, with that starting point, one can fashion a life that is rewarding and meaningful in the long run.
It is this task, which all humans confront in one way or another, which I refer to as “managing reality.” This book is intended to consider how this can be done in a “healthy” way, that is, a way that leads to good outcomes for oneself and others.
Chapters 1 through 6 consist of definitions and descriptions of the key ideas on which this approach is based, including a helpful way to think about reality and things to consider as one sets a direction for one’s life. Chapter 7 focuses on the part of reality that is found only inside our mind. It describes four levels of internal reality that I have found useful to address when working with depressed patients, and suggests methods to mold these four levels so they bring about a greater sense of well-being. Chapter 8 focuses on external reality, that part of your reality that can be observed by others. It describes several elements that are worthwhile considering as you think about your life and suggests methods to mold each of these elements into health-engendering influences for yourself.
The epilog presents a framework for living with a mind that is fully conscious, aware of where it is headed, and how each step along the way leads closer to or farther away from one’s destination. In it, I borrow an intriguing concept from a little-known individual from the Middle Ages, and attempt to adapt it to a perspective that could be useful as we enter the twenty-first century.
My intention is to serve as a catalyst for considering how we lead our lives, and how our actions can move our life in positive or negative directions. My hope is that out of this consideration of alternatives, some readers will choose to take action to sculpt their realities, and that their actions will lead to satisfaction, inner peace, and a sense of lasting happiness.”