The other day my daughter, currently 16, asked me this question: “How do I know what reality is? How do I know this isn’t a dream? Or maybe an illusion? Or what if this is death or hell? I mean how do we know what this is? Should I be trying to wake up or go to sleep? Should I believe what I see or what I experience? What if this isn’t even real?”
We settled into our recliners and this is what I told her.
“The truth is there is no way to know what’s really real. There is no way to know if what you see around you is reality or illusion.
We could be part of a computer simulation. We could be God’s dream. Maybe you’re the only one who exists and I’m just a figment of your imagination.
Maybe I’m the only one who exists and you’re a figment of MY imagination.
Maybe you’re lying in a coma somewhere and this is your coma dream and one day you’ll wake up.
Maybe we’re holograms with no real life but some measure of consciousness.
Maybe you’re every single person who has ever lived but at this moment you’re focused on being you.
Maybe you’re in a mental institution and this life is a hallucination.
Maybe this is a lucid dream.
Even if you die in this reality and go on to an afterlife you will still have the same questions. Is that place real? Or is that place an illusion, simulation, or hallucination?
The point is that you can never know what’s real. Because no matter where you find your consciousness, it could be a simulation or dream or something else.
So the trick is that no matter where you are or what your reality consists of, be happy. Find happiness inside whatever reality you find yourself. That’s what I do.
Whether this is a dream or I’m just a hologram, I can still find happiness.
Whether I’m part of a simulation or I’m in a coma somewhere, I can still find happiness right now… here.
Happiness is a choice. As long as you have conscious will, you can find happiness.
So no matter what reality really is, find happiness.”
She considered my words and said, “I suppose you’re right. I never thought of it like that. I just really want to know what’s real.”
I said, “Your feelings are real. Create the life you want within whatever construct you find yourself. The power to do this is in your hands. Always.”
You can adopt whatever belief about reality that you desire. You may even be able to find evidence for it, but even that evidence is within the construct so you may not be able to trust it.
What’s real doesn’t really matter. You’re here, you’re in it. You have to function inside of whatever this is. So choose happiness. Embrace the reality as it presents itself and find a way to feel joy and love and gratitude.
Then, no matter what reality really is, you’re happy. And in the end, that may be all that matters.