Hard to disagree with evidence-based outcomes combined with our own similar experiences, right?
Laughter, joy, happiness can be spread among people. But what about fear, hatred, or sadness?
Right now the world is doing the exact same thing as the people on this train: except that what they are feeding off of is a 7-course meal of fear. With hatred for dessert. We're soaking in emotions that end up creating the world around us. I'm sure you personally aren't starting wars or being mean to people who aren't the same color as you, but you're living in a world with people who most certainly are.
...started crying, raging incoherently, pointing at people and accusing someone of having a gun? Everyone else on that train would match my level of fear in just seconds. They would look at the person I accused of being something scary or having something scary and they'd make up their minds on the spot to be afraid, clutch their belongings, get up and move away, and maybe even attack the person.
But what really happened in this scenario? Nothing more than happened in the laughter scenario. Nothing actually happening in either. You cannot weigh an emotion on a scale. It has no mass. It only exists in our minds. Yet it is the most powerful force on Earth. Our emotional states directly affect how we treat each other. Whether we are greedy and destructive or charitable and kind. Our individual and collective emotional states cause decisions to pollute or protect the environment. Decisions to take life or value life.
Replace the train with TV news or a Facebook feed full of fear, and you've got your catalyst. The guy on the train represents what we pay attention to. What we choose to focus on. And we as a species are paying much too much attention to people with agendas who profit from our fear.
What we don't want to believe about ourselves is, despite how smart we are and all the brilliant things we've done, that we are so damned easy to goad into feeling and thinking and believing what other people want us to. But the simple fact is, like Emerson said, unless you "stand guard at the portal of your mind," you are giving outside factors the ability to change your mind. To change your emotions.
And you have to ask, why would people want me to be afraid? Why would someone want me to hate? Who benefits from a nation of fearful, hateful people?
It pains me to no end to see that the world just DOES NOT GET THIS! They can totally accept that a person can get on a train and get everyone else to laugh by osmosis.
But they cannot make the connection that the same exact thing can be done (is done) to the opposite effect. This fact is so simple to understand. So clear, at least to me. This undeniable facet of human nature contains within it THE answer to all the problems facing us around the world.
These words may be cliche to people who'd dismiss them as meanderings of an overly-optimistic person who can't face "reality." Yet this is actually the only thing that matters. The thing we need to "get" as human beings, in order to evolve past this caveman approach to living in modern society, is that we can be happy, productive, and we can change the world ourselves. As a collection of happy individuals. We simply must take the power back from news corporations and governments when it comes to how we feel.
War, poverty, violence, hatred, racism, bigotry and Nickelback can be erased, eradicated, and deleted by an ever growing tribe of people who simply value how they feel. You'd never go to a buffet and pick the stuff that makes your stomach heave. "Yes, I'll have some of that tripe and some blood bath and some hate salad, please."
You care enough about what you put on your plate at a buffet. We should also care enough about what we put in our hearts and minds. Feed your psyche things that make you happy in the same way you feed your face. And no matter what you do next on this Earth, it will be something GOOD. It really is that simple. You may say I'm a dreamer, but this is freakin' science and logic. Dreamers are the ones letting everything around them dictate how they feel. They are asleep in a dream that they don't know they can control!
If I can turn 1000 people, 100,000 people, 100,000,000 people onto this simple fact and show them how to do it, with your help, we can absolutely change the world. Here's a good place to start.
Jack Humphrey is the founder of the Thrive Global Challenge. You can find out more and support the mission of spreading happiness, restoration, and balance in the world through meditation and the art and science of happiness by following Thriverly on Facebook.