Life Is Happening For You

Life Is Happening For You

Nothing in this world is good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” – William Shakespeare

Once upon a time there was a Chinese farmer whose horse ran away. That evening, all of his neighbors came around to commiserate. They said, “We are so sorry to hear your horse has run away. This is most unfortunate.” The farmer said, “Maybe.”

The next day the horse came back bringing seven wild horses with it, and in the evening everybody came back and said, “Oh, isn’t that lucky. What a great turn of events. You now have eight horses!” The farmer again said, “Maybe.”

The following day his son tried to break one of the horses, and while riding it, he was thrown off and broke his leg. The neighbors then said, “Oh dear, that’s too bad,” and the farmer responded, “Maybe.”

The next day the conscription officers came around to conscript people into the army, and they rejected his son because he had a broken leg. Again all the neighbors came around and said, “Isn’t that great!” Again, he said, “Maybe.”

This story, as beautifully told by the brilliant philosopher and teacher Alan Watts (video with him telling it here), captures the yin and yang of good and bad luck. It also describes the human tendency to jump to conclusions and assume that we know.

But since we never have the whole picture, and can’t see all the interconnections and ripple effects from past and future, we have to admit that we don’t know if what happens is actually good or bad.

If it is impossible to know, then I suggest take it a step further and assume that everything happens for a good reason.

You can choose to believe that things happen for you and not against you.

You can choose to believe that life is always providing you with the raw material you need for your greatest good and highest learning.

You can choose to believe that the world is your ally.

With this mindset, what is possible for you?  

Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” – Viktor Frankl


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