The Trouble With Reality – It isn’t real. Or is it?

The Trouble With Reality is author Brooke Gladstone‘s written “rumination” about the kind of thing she talks about on a Western New York public radio (WNYC) show On The Media. She has a boatload of journalism awards (from her work on both radio and the written word) and is super interesting, funny, and somehow, at the very same time, deadly serious.

Take for example the word, “Rumination”. That’s her word to describe the book on the cover. It caught my eye. I loved it so much, I picked it up. I mean, just because of that one word! I too am a ruminator! Go, Ruminators!

Coming in at under 100 pages, it is a quick read. But you’ll need more than once. There are profound words that you’ll wish you had a highlighter for… which is why I suggest keeping one close by as you read this one. It’s a book you’ll want to mark up and go back to… at least, I want to!

The Trouble With Reality published in 2017, so you know Trump is mentioned. Love him or hate him, he’s certainly shown us that reality is not exactly as we believed.

Take for example this excerpt from pg. 58:

Ben Terris is a professional reporter and one of the things Trump has been very effective at using against reporters is our sometimes natural inclination to scrutinize our own perceptions, just to make sure that we’re not getting anything wrong. And so that was used against him. {…} Terris was asked over and over again by his own editors, are you sure that’s what you saw, and at some point, he started to doubt his own perception. 

My husband is a reporter for a mid-sized community newspaper. I’ve watched as his blood, sweat, and tears are poured into a story. When a mistake is made – and it’s sometimes because he’s human – he’s quick to take responsibility and feels horrible. Even if it’s as “small” as the misspelling of a name. Apologies and corrections are made and most-often accepted. The end.

Except it’s sometimes NOT the end, especially these days and especially for the larger media outlets! Even a small mistake can haunt you and break your career. Big ones can lead to big consequences. Nothing new in that… but the proliferation!

Not the point … bit of a digression about why I take this subject seriously from both sides.

So, reality. What is it? It was *always* subjective, suggests Gladstone and I think she’s right.

This is not about one US President. This is about HISTORY.

A friend of mine recently visited Auschwitz and shared photos with his friends on Facebook. How can anyone look at those haunting, horrifying photos and believe it didn’t really take place? Yet, it’s true. There are people whose reality does not include Auschwitz, Sandy Hook, 9/11, Global Warming, etc. etc. etc. Whether their numbers are big or small, these people exist.

History, then, is flawed, if not fluid.

I could go on and on…

… but …

If this topic interests you – I want you to find and read this little gem of a book. 

Is there hope, according to Gladstone? YES! And some of it can be found in the most unlikely place! The media! Yay, media!

I’m going to share this one page of the book (pg. 66) of an excerpt from an interview with Politico’s Jack Shafer, which will hopefully get your senses tingling enough to give you a ray of hope, at least. It’s about history, baby, and it’s on our side! The media will recover some of what Shafer calls, “that old revolutionary fire”.



It sounds like war out there! And it is!

(Further comments below excerpt)


And what has this all to do with self-help? Ah… so much!! Mental health is … in my completely biased opinion… in the mind of the beholder. It is subjective to the extreme. Yes, in some cases there are tests to diagnose but in many, many cases, there are “simply” behavioral indicators and doctors and patients mark off a checklist. Does he do that? Does she believe that? Do you think whatever?

Reality is what it is but don’t try to put your finger on it. Most of us with mental health issues haven’t nailed it down yet because it can’t be nailed down. This is also why liars get away with twisting the truth. It’s the trouble with reality.

(Hey, she used the title of the book to explain her point. Cool!)

1 Comment

  1. Reblogged this on The Self-Help Whisperer® and commented:


    In rereading this today, I’m remembering how much I loved this little book. I carried it around for quite a while!

    I can’t believe I wrote about it two years ago. It feels more recent.

    The years just fly by. Is that reality? It sure feels like it!


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