Whenever things seem to be going badly in an area of my life, I think back on this old Taoist proverb:
Good thing, Bad thing, Who knows?
There was once a farmer who owned a horse and had a son.
One day, his horse ran away. The neighbors came to express their concern: "Oh, that's too bad. How are you going to work the fields now?" The farmer replied: "Good thing, Bad thing, Who knows?"
In a few days, his horse came back and brought another horse with her. Now, the neighbors were glad: "Oh, how lucky! Now you can do twice as much work as before!" The farmer replied: "Good thing, Bad thing, Who knows?"
The next day, the farmer's son fell off the new horse and broke his leg. The neighbors were concerned again: "Now that he is incapacitated, he can't help you around, that's too bad." The farmer replied: "Good thing, Bad thing, Who knows?"
Soon, the news came that a war broke out, and all the young men were required to join the army. The villagers were sad because they knew that many of the young men would not come back. The farmer's son could not be drafted because of his broken leg. His neighbors were envious: "How lucky! You get to keep your only son." The farmer replied: "Good thing, Bad thing, Who knows?"
So true. Who are we to know, in the moment, if something happened for the better or worse? We THINK we know, but we can't possibly know, really, how something will turn out in the future.
The key is to not label the happenings in our life as either "good" or "bad," like this farmer did, and instead watch how it all unfolds.
Where are you labeling something as "bad"? What makes you so sure?
A blog by Samantha Sutton, Ph.D., life coach.
Image courtesy of Moyan Brenn