How to make things real in three convoluted, interdependent steps

Let me ask a philosophical cliché of a question. What is reality? What makes something real?

That tree outside, is it real? It depends — maybe it’s not, maybe it’s a computer simulation. We can’t say for sure anything is real, because we are limited to our very limited point of view. Our eyes can be easily tricked, scientific measurements can turn out to be false, misleading or misinterpreted.

So how do we judge the realness of something? If you would see Jesus flying down from heaven, how do you know if it’s real? You would probably turn to your neighbour and ask “Are you seeing this?” If an observation can be confirmed by multiple independent sources, then for all intents and purposes it’s real. Global warming is real because there is a consensus in the scientific community that it’s real.

So reality really boils down to social proof.

Why do we care what is real? Because it determines who we are, who we ‘really’ are. Have you ever done a visualisation exercise and felt like you were tricking yourself? You can visualise being a great, successful artist, but there’s always a small voice saying “That’s not who you really are” This reality of who you ‘really’ are can feel depressingly non-negotiable. It can feel very unbending, very absolute. But we must realise that actually, this reality is fragile, relative and changeable. The reason it feels so absolute is probably because you’re afraid of how malleable your reality actually is. Humans tend to retreat from the abyss of freedom that is the power to change reality just through a shift of perspective. In order to function, we need some stable ground underneath our feet.

But if you want to make a radical change in your reality, you need to know you have this power. You can change who you are, what you do, how much you earn, how much impact you have, just by making it real for yourself and for others. Because reality is nothing but social proof, if enough people agree that you are a great successful artist, it will be real. But you can’t make it real for others if you don’t make it real for yourself. But at the same time, you can’t make it real for yourself if you don’t make it real for others.