One day everything is magical and going better than you could ever imagine. Then in a moment, everything seems to go wrong. You wonder what is going on. Is this some sort of karmic backlash?
We all have days like this. For some of us, it’s years. Life can be really hard sometimes.
I’m a proponent of the idea that we get to choose our narrative. We can choose to frame everything we encounter in a positive light or negative. We can choose to be the hero or the victim.We get to choose our narrative. We can choose to frame everything we encounter in a positive light or negative. We can choose to be the hero or the victim. Click To Tweet
This is something my husband, Jer, and I practice often. Like most people, our lives haven’t been easy. Rather than playing the role of the victim, we look at what our hardship has made possible.
But what would happen if we quit labeling things as good or bad and just saw them as part of our story? I’ve been asking myself this question ever since I discovered the following Taoist parable.
塞翁失马 (Blessings in Disguise)
There was once an old man who lived on a farm with his loving son and treasured horse.
One day, the man’s horse ran away. When the villagers heard that he had lost his only horse, they came to offer their condolences. The farmer simply shrugged and said, “Good or bad, hard to say.”
A few days later the horse returned bringing twelve more horses with him. The villagers were so excited about the farmer’s good fortune that they ran to his farm to congratulate him. Again, the farmer simply said, “Good or bad, hard to say.”
The following day, the farmer’s son began to break the new horses in. Shortly after beginning, one of the horses threw him off and the son broke his leg. Without fail, the villagers came and expressed their sadness about the son’s misfortune. The farmer repeated, “Good or bad, hard to say.”
A week later, war broke out. Officials made their way through the village and drafted every able-bodied young man to fight. It was a brutal war and many young soldiers lost their lives. Since his leg was broken, the farmer’s son was spared. Once again, the villagers came and told the farmer how lucky he was that his son was safe. He shrugged and said, “Good or bad, hard to say.”Good or bad, hard to say. Click To Tweet
We’ve all heard stories about triumph that followed overwhelming failure. Or miracles that happened on the heels of a tragedy. Many of us have had these experiences ourselves. At the moment, it feels like the worst thing that could ever happen. But down the road, it’s common to hear people express gratitude for their misfortune.
You see, life is like a movie, not a snapshot. Everything that happens is part of our story.Life is like a movie, not a snapshot. Everything that happens is part of our story. Click To Tweet
Sometimes good things come to an end so that better things can come to life. Some things happen because they’re part of the circle of life. And more often than not, we’ll never truly understand why.
Is it possible that we’ll ever know if one moment was good or bad? It’s hard to say.
I’ve been trying to incorporate this phrase into my life. I’ve enjoyed the freedom of not having to label and judge everything that happens. It’s been wonderful to not have to make up a story about why something turned out the way it did. The jury’s still out on whether or not I can adopt this mindset long-term. But I’m excited about the benefits of trying.
Throughout our lives, we’ll all experience moments of exuberant joy and intense pain. This phrase will never replace the feelings we need to process. But maybe, it can help facilitate that process.
Good or bad, hard to say.
What do you think? How would your life be different if you adopted this phrase?
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.