Life introduces all sorts of intrusions that activate our senses — and it is in our best interest to find favorable interpretations. It is undeniable that a pleasant perspective of events creates more enjoyable moods. If we focus our thoughts on what we prefer, and adjust our attitudes toward the positive, we feel better.
But maybe it’s more than that. Perhaps life provides a stimulus and our reaction determines actual outcomes. Under this theory, life regularly introduces random stimuli and our thoughts determine what physically occurs. For instance, is it a simple pain in our side or something more sinister? Under this theory, we decide. But this is not typically a conscious decision because it tends to be made for us by preexisting beliefs.
But what if we were able to make it a conscious decision by using mental discipline to alter our beliefs and select the option we prefer. We already know about the power of placebos and nocebos, so part of the theory has already been proven to a point. But where exactly is that line of demarcation? Is there a real dividing line or is it simply a matter of belief? How much can thought influence outcome?
Perhaps life is like a computer simulation, and inhabitants actually program their lives in real-time based on expectations. If we alter our expectations, we may receive different results. Why do outcomes vary so wildly between individuals despite following similar paths? But even if this theory isn’t true, there’s a benefit to believing it.
If we truly believe that our expectations influence life’s outcomes, then we’ll make sure to monitor our minds, actively pruning out the negativity. We dare not think dour thoughts lest they come true. If we keep ourselves from pessimism, we’re cheerier. With this practice, we’re using anxiety as a means to maintain lighthearted moods — fear facilitating felicity.