Good thing? Bad thing? Who knows?


Men are disturbed not by the things that happen, but by their opinion of the things that happen.

~ Epictetus

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 is 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 will 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?”

That very summer….and the story continues…

The above Sufi story is quoted by many authors to illustrate how our perceptions color our life experiences.

Dr.Sri Kumar Rao in his best-selling book ‘Are you ready to succeed?’ recommends an exercise based on the above story.

Think of a past moment in your life where you perceived the event as bad then, but now when you look back that was indeed a useful fork in your life. All of us can recall several such forks in our lives – choosing a college to study, accepting a ‘not-so-attractive’ job offer, a personal setback or decisions that we took because of lack of choices and so on. Those events opened up new avenues and pathways of opportunities in the ensuing days!

Let’s look at our life today and review the things that are bothering us right now and crying for our attention. These events that seem bad may indeed be great turning points in our life when we connect the dots looking backwards at a future date! Absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence J

This is a fabulous tool for centering ourselves and face daily challenges. When we find ourselves in a web of internal chatter labeling a life event as negative –let’s remember to say to ourselves, Good thing? Bad thing? Who knows?

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