In The Untethered Soul, Michael A. Singer writes, “Lao Tzu fell asleep and dreamt he was a butterfly. Upon awakening, he asked himself, ‘Am I a man who has just been dreaming that he was a butterfly, or a sleeping butterfly, now dreaming that he is a man?'” It would seem the question is rhetorical; surely he is a man dreaming? After all, we know he is a man, right? Nope. We’re just more likely to assume it because we know we too are human. What if instead we knew we were butterflies dreaming we were human?
I’m holding out that I may be from the future but I for one don’t think I’m a butterfly. My arms and perception of reality don’t stretch that far. But the concept speaks to one aspect of the perception of reality – the observer of reality. To who we are when we observe reality. We are of course [perhaps] static, you are always you, I am always me, but the way we feel is not static, it is state-based. That is, the way we feel changes based on our emotional state – sadness, anger, happiness, etc. – and therefore our perception of reality is also state-based.
For instance, to most of us a blue pen is likely just a blue pen. An instrument with which to write in blue ink. The reality is that it’s just a blue pen. But what if you’d had a childhood that involved someone writing profanity up and down your arms in blue ink? The reality may be that it’s just a blue pen. But to you, your emotional reality is likely quite different. The sight of a blue pen likely changes your emotional state. To you, it is likely more than just a blue pen.
Similarly, if you showed up at a wedding a week after your own bitter divorce, you are probably far less likely to get into the emotional state of the wedding – love – than if you had arrived at the wedding a week after your own wedding. Again, you are still at the same wedding, the reality of the wedding remains the same, but your perception of reality, your experience of the wedding, will likely be influenced by how you feel when you arrive – bitter from divorce or excited about marriage.
Both of these are examples of one of the five types of reality, Emotional. The first example would suggest a deep emotional pattern associated with blue pens. The second is more immediate – how we might experience the reality of a wedding based on how we feel a week after our own divorce or wedding. Both examples highlight the role that our emotional state plays in our perception of reality. Said differently. There is no such thing as reality. Reality is state-based. You are state-based.
There’s a powerful conclusion from all this gibberish. You may not be able to change your reality. But if your perception of reality is state-based then you can change your perception of reality by changing your emotional state. Put simply. If you want a happy reality, choose a happy emotional state. Easier said than done, right? Perhaps. But said is the first step to done.