It’s hard to see bad luck as an opportunity. But the more we wallow in our misfortune, the easier it is to stay mired in misery and to feel helpless.
The truth is, all situations are what we make of them. And sometimes it’s best to detach yourself from events altogether and let the universe do its work.
In the parable below, a farmer decides not to react to situations or to think of them as inherently “good” or “bad.”
It’s an ancient Chinese Taoist story. Taoism is a philosophy that focuses on simplicity, compassion, and “going with the flow.”
Take a look at the video below (or the story beneath it) and think about whether or not the farmer led a more peaceful life for never judging what happened to him.
Read on for the text of the story.
There’s a poor, humble farmer who owns a single horse, which he depended on for important work.
One day, the horse disappears, leaving the farmer unable to do most of his work.YouTube Screenshot - Shareably Source: YouTube Screenshot - Shareably
Later that evening, a neighbor came over and said, “I’m so sorry to hear about your horse. You must be devastated.”
The farmer replied, “I don’t know if it’s good or bad – we’ll see.”
The neighbor was confused. He thought, “How could this be anything other than a tragedy?”
The next day, the farmer’s horse returned home, bringing with it 6 wild horses. As a result, the farmer finished his work with ease.YouTube Screenshot - Shareably Source: YouTube Screenshot - Shareably
In the evening, the same neighbor came and said, “You have such good luck. Now you can do your work and more!”
And the farmer said, “Maybe. We’ll see.”
Again, the neighbor was confused. He thought, “How could this be anything but great news?”YouTube Screenshot - Shareably Source: YouTube Screenshot - Shareably
The day after, the farmer’s son tried to tame and ride one of the wild horses.
The horse throws the son off, breaking his leg.YouTube Screenshot - Shareably Source: YouTube Screenshot - Shareably
In the evening, the same neighbor came over and said, “I’m so sorry to hear about your son’s accident, this is terrible.”
The farmer said, “Maybe – we’ll see.”
The neighbor was beginning to think that the farmer was insane.
A few weeks later, the army comes by the town to draft able-bodied young men for the ongoing war. Because the farmer’s son was recovering from a broken leg, he was not drafted.YouTube Screenshot - Shareably Source: YouTube Screenshot - Shareably
In the evening, the neighbor came over and said, “Your family is so lucky! Your son was able to avoid the draft.”YouTube Screenshot - Shareably Source: YouTube Screenshot - Shareably
And the farmer said, “Maybe – we’ll see.”
The origins of this story trace back to an ancient Chinese essay collection, the Huainanzi, during the Han Dynasty.
The moral of the story is that no occurrences are truly good or bad. Instead, we assign our own meaning to these events, and these meanings dictate how we experience the world and view our lives. Most likely, you won’t ever see all the consequences of every event, good or bad. Even if you could, the immediate short-term emotions you feel will give bias and blur the picture.
The good news is that you’ve already taken the first step to taking it all in stride: awareness.
What do you think about this approach to life?
We’re not typically taught to detach ourselves from situations. Instead, we’re encouraged to be the masters of our own destiny by working hard to set ourselves up for success.
But the truth is, we can work hard and do everything “right” and still experience misfortune. So is it better to just go with the flow and not get hung up on whether situations are “good” or “bad”?
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Source: YouTube – Shareably