The claim that our minds have power over external and internal reality is scientifically sound. We’ve heard of “The Placebo Effect”, seen countless books on “The Power of Positive Thinking”, and have studied the grim effects of madness. In fact, there are even secular sciences revolving around the idea that reality doesn’t exist until it is measured in our minds (1) and that our brains can change themselves just by THINKING. (2)
Some have taken this reasoning to the point of pure Determinalism, where everything that happens to us is either “allowed” or “desired” by our minds. Others even to say that nothing else exists besides yourself (granted your mind is purely determinal).
Most of us however, believe in an external reality that is shared between many minds. I believe that although our minds affect reality, the relationship is mutual. Other minds may affect our reality as well as reality itself affecting our mind. Mind may not bend reality that we may fly, but mind may bend reality that we may effect our own mental engine, and small portions of physical reality.
This being said, man’s inherent and natural desire for happiness has meshed itself into this information. “Think happy thoughts/focus on hope/have compassion” have become determinalistic “preacher’s” sermons. After all, if happiness is subjective, than it is perfectly possible for the mass murderer to become as perfectly happy as the nun with some “Reprogramming of the mind”. All we must simply do is reprogram the murderer to feel no guilt, to abandon compassion as nothingness, and away he goes.
Yet we find there is a natural when it comes to happiness. There are things we never enjoy unless we “reprogram”. Nobody enjoys abuse, unless prior external occurances (self esteem, seeing the act committed by people you think are “good”, even birth/ generation issues) rewire you into thinking that abuse towards you is “good” and hence you become a sadist. The problem we find here is that these “happinesses” we do not believe to be “good”, and thus “good” is a concept greater than “happiness”. Yet even if this statement is true, we know that true “good” ought to cause “happiness”, and so we naturally believe that true happiness is objective rather than subjective.
And we see the flaw in society today. “What’s good for you may not be good for me”, “Whatever makes you happy”, “There is no truth” all revolve around man trying to grab what he thinks will make him happy. Yet if we can see obvious examples where we may deem someone else’s happiness unhealthy and not-“good”, than we nullify the above statements! Even in the midst of this thinking, how many times have we tried to obtain that which will make us happy only to find out how hollow that happiness is? Will the alcoholic truly be happy escaping reality eternally, or the cutter happy punishing him/herself forever?
Instead, madness is reserved for these individuals. Temporal happiness is not the same thing as long-lasting happiness, and pleasure a false substitute. Here than, we must determine that while our “moral compass” or “critical thinking of what is good” may be useful, we are obviously flawed. We, like Paul, may desire good but be unable to truly produce it or find it. How arrogant to rely solely on man’s interpretation of good to proclaim true good!
And perhaps this is the end of the game. Those who pursue their own happiness may indeed have what they wanted, and lose happiness forever. (3) And those who, while doing their best to critically think for themselves, trust in an exterior source (IE. Scripture) may be the ones who find it.
The puppy whose master bathes it and gives it rules might find its master wicked and wrong. “Doesn’t he care about how I feel? Why would he want me to be sad?!” Yet that dog may someday grow to understand that eating its own poop, or letting itself get eaten by disease ridden tics, would be the result of it’s thoughts on “happiness”.
Maybe we can apply this example to our own lives.
3.- Ref C.S. Lewis “The Great Divorce”