Oscar is sitting in his prison cell, which is small, dark, wet, and cold. He has no pictures or posters because the prison guards won’t allow him to have any. It’s late at night, he’s alone except for the cockroaches and rats, and he’s laying on a hard wooden bed with scratchy sheets.
Yet Oscar is happy. Very happy. Joyful.
Meanwhile, in the rich part of town, Otis is at the big dinner table in his warm, beautiful house with his loving family, enjoying a steak dinner with an expensive bottle of red wine along with a crackling fire in the background, surrounded by his loved ones.
Yet Otis is miserable. Depressed and anxious.
How is this so?
Because Oscar is getting released from prison tomorrow, and Otis is headed to prison tomorrow.
I read the story of Otis and Oscar recently in a book about human psychology. The story of Otis and Oscar shows beyond any doubt that mood is a result of our internal mental state and not our external physical state.
As a trial lawyer who represents lots of people in dire circumstances, I am constantly amazed how so many of our clients are kind, happy, and compassionate people, even though they are going through some of the most difficult experiences a human being will ever face (loss of a loved one, a severe life-altering injury, home or property destroyed, they got cheated in a business deal, or they face financial devastation).
And I am also amazed when I am hanging out with rich and successful people in social situations how so many are absolutely miserable. How could someone show up to a nice restaurant in a fancy sports car wearing fancy clothes then they spend their time complaining and moaning about everything under the sun? It’s absolutely bizarre.
Your mental state determines your happiness. It’s just that simple.
So if you agree that your mental state determines your mood, then the next question is what to do about it? Most people do nothing. Most people just let their minds do whatever they want.
But some people realize you can train your mind just like you can train your body. And you can train your mind towards happiness, joy, and compassion, and away from sadness, anxiety, depression, fear and anger.
I know this for a fact because I’ve studied this intently for years now, and while I certainly don’t have all the answers, I do have some thoughts to share on his subject, which I’ll share in some of our future newsletters.