My word for 2023: Real

jasonleow  •  31 Dec 2022   •    

One of my all-time favourite stories ever is Old Path, White Clouds by my teacher Thich Naht Hanh. It’s basically the life story of Buddha, written in a prose that simple yet profound to read. I can’t do justice to all the insight and wisdom in that book and in Buddha’s life story in one post, but one thing that always stayed with me was the impression of how real the Buddha was as a person, as a human being. He’s the realest of the real.

No fluff. No bs. No fancy head in the cloud ideas. No big theory of the universe and everything in it. Yet despite being firmly planted in reality, he wasn’t cold and indifferent. He definitely was compassionate and feeling towards others. He’s expressive and creative in how he engaged with people who were unfamiliar with his teachings. He shows emotions without being swayed by them. People liked him and flocked to him.

Real, genuine, authentic, honest, true to the core, yet still very human. So human that most humans can’t even live up to that.

That’s the image I have in my mind when I thought about my one-word aspiration for 2023. I won’t pretend I can ever be as real as the Buddha is, but I can aspire, at least in that direction.

Yes, that’s my one-word aspiration for 2023:


I chose this because that’s one of the biggest hard truths I realised last year. I tend to be a dreamer. I have too many ideas and narratives of how things should be. I think these ideals had hindered more than help, especially when it came to progress on my indie products. I’ve leaned too much to the idealism end. A healthy, hearty dose of reality is in order. A better balance between reality and ideals. I wrote about how having a small bet mindset is about being a healthy, realist skeptic. Perhaps this attitude can be extended beyond my indie solopreneur career but also to life itself.

I want to be honest and true to what reality proves.
I aspire to be even more genuine and authentic to how things really are.
I crave to be original and pure not compared others but to my heart.
I desire to make accurate decisions based on validation via reality. Ideals have a place—for intrinsic motivation and for driving action—after the separate decision is made based on reality. It’s not about waiting for 100% certainty in outcome before action, but 100% certainty that I’m acting based on reality than biases, even if what reality showed me is at best hints.

Be real.
Being real.

That’s 2023 for me, in one word.