What does it take to Truly Realize something?

November 7, 2011

When we disappoint ourselves, or we have trouble making change, building a habit or taking action, I think it might be because we don’t know what we’re doing.

Any nugget of inspiration from Fear.less or wherever is a meme. If an uplifting quote really gets to you, you can tell your friends about it. You can put it on a bumper sticker. You can mark the date you first saw it in the calendar as “the day everything changed”. None of these amount to actual absorption and understanding of a truth. You “know” it, but you don’t know it. I “know” way more about fear than the average person because of my work with Fear.less, but I truly know a pretty normal amount. Maybe less.

If we truly realized the veracity of an oft-repeated mantra, we wouldn’t waver in our resolve to live by it. Can true realization be cultivated? I think so. Ask yourself:

-How many miles must you run before you Truly Realize that exercise reduces stress, even though you’re tired at the end?

-How many public acts of wackiness must you perform before you Truly Realize that most of the world is refreshingly indifferent?

-How much fun must you allow yourself to have before you Truly Realize that pleasure needs to be a part of your lifestyle?

-How many people must you enrich or help before you Truly Realize that your presence on this earth is a net positive?

-How many times must you feel whole after doing just as you please before you Truly Realize the idiosyncratic way of living that is best for you?

Maybe true realization is not possible, at least not for everything. Ishita ends most contributor interviews by asking what they know to be true now that they merely believed it before, and everyone has an answer, so it must be possible for at least one thing. As for the rest, maybe doubt will always creep in. Okay. But we can get pretty close. We can work ourselves toward a certain degree of confidence that allows us to function at a high level.

An added motivation for me to do any particular thing is the journey toward True Knowledge. At some point, if I do something enough, I will either realize yes or no. This is a good idea, or it’s not. At least I’ll know.

What have you truly realized?

photo by Stephanie Steele

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

David W November 7, 2011 at 10:40 am

Quite the existential piece here… It reminds me of Ecclesiastes. It’s worth a read even as a non-believer. There really is no point to any of this. Any of the things we do.

When you realize this, you become free to do and be whatever and whoever you want. When we take away the mystery we end up with a lot more than we ever knew existed.

Confusing I know, but you just have to take the plunge.


Matt November 8, 2011 at 6:08 pm

haha, thank you, an excellent point – taking the plunge is usually a good strat regardless of the veracity of your knowledge


Doug November 8, 2011 at 10:44 am

This is the perfect opportunity for Seth to coin a new word.
There are shades of meaning between “I have read about something, so know it”, “I have researched something so know all about it”, and “I have done that, more than once so truly realize the truth of what it means.”
It is like book learnin’, schoolin, and work.

Keep up the good work. It is appreciated.


Matt November 8, 2011 at 6:09 pm

how about i coin it instead. “quow”. it’s short for quotation marks know.

i’ll work on it.


Steve M Nash November 9, 2011 at 10:30 am

Yes, I’ll join in with the other commenters and congratulate you on a provocative blog post – ‘knowing’, or embodying what you know, is a hard gig to get, let alone keep.

Here’s an inspirational quote I came across the other day that shines a little light on the subject, maybe…

“If you want to learn something, read about it. If you want to understand something, write about it. If you want to master something, teach it!” — Yogi Bhajan

As for what I truly ‘know’. So far, I think it has to be the rather obvious… ‘nothing’. However, I every now and then REALLY get it, but the moment flashes away and I am left floundering once more in “knowing but not ‘knowing’” land. Still, it’s good to know that this (truly) la-la land exists, even if I don’t get to visit it very often! :-D

Cheers, and thanks again for sharing good insights about fear

Ps Interestingly, as I went about creating my own self-help website ‘contribution’, there were 2 topics that I just could not stop talking about. First one was the topic of happiness, and the second was, yup, fear – really no idea why this should be. I could write for hours and hours and hours on both subjects. Easily. (But I won’t. Not now! ;-) )


Matt November 9, 2011 at 5:58 pm

thanks steve. that is a great quote. lately i’ve been trying harder to get to step 2. step 3 is for special occasions.


Sokobora November 14, 2011 at 10:20 am

Hey Steve:
I love the quote. However, I would change the ‘TEACH IT’ part to ‘LIVE IT’. I think that’s the only way to truly master anything. Learning, writing and teaching still put you in the role of the spectator, the observer. To truly master anything, you have to be on stage, you have to live it.



Stephen November 10, 2011 at 11:14 am

Really liked this piece and really impressed with the whole site. I tell alot of stories (written, digital, etc) For me the greatest truth I’ve discovered and then repeatedly rediscovered is that storytelling is key to human understanding and the most important stories of all, are the ones we tell ourselves.



Sokobora November 14, 2011 at 10:26 am

Great post Matt. Like Dave Ramsey says, I’d like to one day go from the land of believers to the land of doers. It’s in the doing that knowledge is imprinted in your soul. The confidence that comes with that knowledge is immediately recognizable. There’s no BS that can emanate from that. We all recognize it when we see it.


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