Here is a thought experiment worth examining. It will clearly demonstrate how our minds are the sources of both suffering and happiness.  Without altering any events in the ‘real world’ it will show how our emotional lives are at the mercy of our thoughts/feelings.

You are greeted one morning by your 12 year old daughter Anna [or granddaughter, niece etc] who tells you that her best friend Jill would like her to join the family on their sailboat on Saturday.   She has pleaded with you before to give her permission and you are about to relent.  You know Jill’s father.  He has been a sailor all of his life. Is a responsible and decent man. You are told that the whole family will be going including other young children.  You finally relent with a warning that Anna must call you every hour on her cell.

Of course you immediately begin to worry a week in advance.  Finally the day arrives. The weather seems OK and the reports are that there is a remote chance of a storm later in the day.  But Anna is so excited that you help her get ready.

She leaves and you speak to your best friend Marie who calls you back an hour later to mention that she just saw on the Weather Channel that the chance of storms is increased by a tropical system moving up the coast.  Your stomach immediately begins to turn and your face begins to flush but you tell yourself that Jill’s father is an experienced sailor and wouldn’t take any chances.

You scan the skies and they begin to darken. The wind picks up suddenly and you begin to sweat. Anna didn’t call you and you begin to worry even more.  You call her but can’t get through.  You begin to pace the floors.  Your heart is pounding.  It begins to rain hard and the winds pick up.  You picture the sailboat being tossed around.  You try to block this image from your mind but you can’t.  You pace around the dining room and are beginning to hyperventilate. You hope that Jill was wearing a life jacket.  The minutes seem to drag as you suffer tremendously.  Finally after another hour [which felt like days] your cell rings.–It is Anna.  She tells you that Jill’s father decided that it was too stormy to sail that day and that they all went for lunch instead. That was a couple of hours ago and then they went back to Jill’s house to play.  Anna was too busy to call you.

You are filled with emotions and you begin to cry. Anna is confused and asks you what’s wrong.  You can barely speak but through your sobs tell her she must never NOT call you again.  You hang up and sit down, exhausted–a mixture of emotions.

You have run the gamut from suffering to joy as a result of your mind’s excursion. Remember that nothing actually occurred in the ‘real world’.  But that is the point–the world we inhabit is within our minds.

It is a thought experiment worth remembering.

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