The first time I’ve heard this strange question was from my yoga teacher from 30 years ago -Priscilla Patrick (remember her from PBS series Stretching for Life?). It has influenced my life since.
First from the technical side let’s remind ourselves the difference. A thermometer, of course, takes the temperature, for example of a room, and lets us know if it’s hot or cold. A thermostat, on the other hand, regulates the temperature of the room and makes it hot or cold or anything in between.
What does it have to do with the choice of being one or another?
If you are a thermometer in a given situation, it means that just as a thermometer should, you passively observe, estimate and relay what you see. For instance when walking down a street you pass by a stranger, you notice his face expression, and maybe you notice that he looks sad or worried (like most of the strangers in my part of the world). You think that you can’t do anything about it and you just pass him by.
Now you become a thermostat. You know that you have influence. You see the sad faced stranger. You make an eye contact, you gently smile and send him a few quants of good energy. Well, why the hell not? The stranger might smile back or look a little frightened or surprised or quickly look away. You don’t take it personally. You sent him a smile and you let it do the work. Maybe it will slightly change something for the stranger. Or maybe it won’t stick to him at all, but will fly on and get absorbed by a mom feeding a baby at Calle 10 de Agosto in the city of San Lorenzo in Ecuador, just like the butterfly effect theory tell us could happen. And she gets a little surprised and curious where this pleasant energy came from out of nothing, as if an angel touched her slightly with her wing. Nothing is lost in nature.
I understood lately that in reality we are never just thermometers. We are always the thermostats. Even when we pass each other by with a complete indifference, we are sending the energy of indifference. When we notice a sad stranger and we speculate about the possible reasons of his sadness (playing out our own beliefs and life experiences in his presumed story) or when we judge him as the next „habituary malcontent”, we also send the energy into the world. And it obeys quantum physics and changes into an appropriate matter somewhere in the Universe. Maybe at Calle 10 de Agosto in San Lorenzo, Ecuador.
We are always the thermostats. We regulate the world temperature. The question is then „What kind of energy do you choose to send. Walk with this awareness today. I practice it every day, though my ego draws circles on her forehead and whispers to me: „You and your quantum physics are so silly. You can’t change the world”. But I can. Peace, the same as war, begins in people’s hearts.