Everything Good That Happens To You Is Bad

A farmer had only one horse. One day, his horse ran away.

All the neighbors came by saying, “I’m so sorry. This is such bad news. You must be so upset.” The man just said, “We’ll see.”

A few days later, his horse came back with twenty wild horses. The man and his son corraled all 21 horses.

All the neighbors came by saying, “Congratulations! This is such good news. You must be so happy!” The man just said, “We’ll see.”

One of the wild horses kicked the man’s only son, breaking both his legs.

All the neighbors came by saying, “I’m so sorry. This is such bad news. You must be so upset.” The man just said, “We’ll see.”

The country went to war, and every able-bodied young man was drafted to fight. The war was terrible and killed every young man, but the farmer’s son was spared, since his broken legs prevented him from being drafted.

All the neighbors came by saying, “Congratulations! This is such good news. You must be so happy!” The man just said, “We’ll see.”

The above proverb comes in many forms, all showing how the first interpretation of events that happen to you is usually the emotional one. There is good in bad and bad in good, and both can be acted upon in a way to give balance. Otherwise life will toss you around like a doll as you hurry to categorize every event as “good” or “bad.”

The ancient Greeks believed that once you prepared for battle with the best troops and arms you could muster, the actual result would be based on fortune. If they lost many battles in a row, they’d actually use that as a reason to fight again, for fortune would surely not deal so many continuous defeats. While they did take superstition a bit far when cancelling an attack due to a solar eclipse or a strong storm, I believe their approach to life’s randomness was the correct one. They hoped for victory; they planned and trained for it, but the moment the first arrow flew, they understood that little more could be done.

Today, we try to eliminate the effects of fortune. We over-plan, over-estimate, and over-expect in the belief that it will guarantee a result. Then what happens when fortune plays its hand out of our favor? We fall like a house of cards…

  • “Why is this happening to me?”
  • “I didn’t do anything to deserve this.”
  • “It’s too hard.”
  • “I give up!”
  • “Life isn’t fair.” (Sent from my iPhone)

If things didn’t go your way then it is “bad” and if things went fine then it is “good.” Modern humans, with all their superior technology and knowledge, have conditioned themselves to behave like laboratory rats, hitting a lever in the hopes of receiving a drop of morphine instead of an electric shock. Every day they hit the lever expecting a positive result, but when they don’t get that result they believe that life dealt them and only them a bad hand, no matter how many billions of people have a far lesser station.

Instead of being slaves to the result, we should let the god of probability determine our fate after preparing the best we could. While some emotion helps you stay invested in your goals, events are neither good or bad. When you act to the best of your ability, over the course of a lifetime, you’ll steadily be driven towards your desired result. The goal is not to be a master of your environment, but to be a master of how you let your mind interpret your environment.

Read Next: One Piece Of Advice

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