Imagine you're steering a ship out at sea. Below the deck out of sight, lies a vast horde of demons, all with enormous claws and razor-sharp teeth. And they have made a deal with you: as long as you keep the ship drifting aimlessly out to sea, they'll stay beneath the deck so you don't have to look at them. But if you ever start heading toward the shore, they immediately rush up on deck, flap their wings, bare their fangs, and threaten to tear you to shreds. Not surprisingly, you don't like that very much, so you say: "Sorry demons! I didn't mean it! Please go back down below." And you turn the ship around and drift back out to sea, and the demons disappear beneath the deck. So you breathe a sigh of relief, and everything seems okay - for awhile.
The problem is, you soon get fed up with drifting aimlessly. You get bored, lonely, miserable, resentful and anxious. You see all those other ships heading toward the shore, and you know that's where youreally
want to be going. So, one day you pluck up your courage, turn the tiller and head toward the shore once again. But the moment you do, those demons swarm up onto the deck and threaten to rip you to pieces again.
But, here's the interesting thing: although these demons are very good at threatening you, they never actually cause you any physical harm. Why not? Because they can't! All they can do is growl loudly, wave their claws, and look terrifying - physically, they can't touch you. The only power they have is to intimidate. So, if you believe they're really
going to do what they say they'll do, then they've got control of the boat. But once you realize they have no capacity to physically harm you, - then you are free. You can take your ship wherever you want - as long as you are willing to accept the demons' presence. All you have to do to reach land is let the demons gather round, let them scream at you all they like, and keep steering the ship toward shore. The demons may howl and protest, but they are powerless to stop you.
However, if you are not willing to allow these demons on board, if you've got to keep them down below no matter what, then your only option is to stay adrift at sea. (Of course, you can try to throw the demons overboard, but while you are busy doing that no one is steering the ship, so you run the risk of crashing or capsizing. Besides which, it's a struggle you can never win, because there is an infinite number of demons in the hold!
The Happiness Trap by Russ Harris
Hokusai ~~~ Mythological Lion ~~~ Great Wave