Embrace Reality & Deal With It

I recently completed Ray Dalio’s book Principles. Dalio is the founder of Bridgwater Associates, one of the world’s largest hedge funds, and, it turns out, a pretty darn brilliant guy.

The premise of his book is that well-considered principles help us navigate life and work and achieve to our highest capacity. It’s both simple and powerful.

I mean, how many of us spend years wandering through life trying stuff out, having stuff happen to us, reacting, and then occasionally wondering what it all means?

(Or is that just me?)

Dalio argues that when we pay attention to our lives and the things that happen, over time we can observe similarities. And if we develop principles for how we’re going to deal with these situations, we’re better prepared to deal with them and ultimately become the authors of our lives.


“If you were to write down what type of encounter you have every time you have one (e.g. the birth of a child, the loss of a job, a personal disagreement) and compile them in a list, it would probably total just a few hundred items and only a few of them would be unique to you. You might want to try this. Not only will you see for yourself if what I’m saying is true, but you will also start to build a list of the things you need to think about and have principles for.”

Makes sense, right? The same kinds of things tend to happen in peoples’ lives, many of them over and over again. So why not plan for that and establish some principles for dealing with it?

The book is organized by Dalio’s specific sets of principles: first for life, second for work.

There’s SO much in the book. If you are into creating systems, I strongly recommend grabbing a copy and digging in.

For now, I’ll share one principle (and two sub-principles) which struck me deeply:

  • Embrace Reality and Deal with It

When looking at your dreams or goals, it’s important to have a mindset of abundance. And yet there is a risk in spending too much time in the idealistic end of the pool. You must know your goals AND see what the reality is in this moment. You must identify the GAP. The gap between reality and what you desire.

A sub-principle of this is: Dreams + Reality + Determination= A Successful Life.

“People who achieve success and drive progress deeply understand the cause-effect relationships that govern reality and have principles for using them to get what they want. The converse is also true: Idealists who are not well grounded in reality create problems, not progress.”

(Uffda. Nobody wants to be a problem-creator, right? Once again, mind the GAP.)

Another sub-principle: Pain + Reflection = Progress.

“If you can develop a reflexive reaction to psychic pain that causes you to reflect on it rather than avoid it, it will lead to your rapid learning/evolving.”

 What happens when you feel pain? Do you push it away, ignore it, or numb it out with something?

(You’re not alone if the answer is yes to any or all of these questions. Many of us have done all three at some point or another.)

What if you had a method for transforming pain into a tool? A means to reflect on a process and refine a principle?

What would that do for your life?





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