Good or bad? It’s hard to tell.

Getting fired is bad right? Maybe. Landing that dream job is great, right? Maybe. It’s hard to tell what something will lead to. I’ve been fired exactly one time. It seemed like a bad thing. But, it led to me starting my first marketing agency that we grew and sold to another agency, which took me down the path I’m currently on, doing work that I love.

There’s an old Taoist parable about a farmer whose horse ran away. “How unlucky!” his brother tells him. The farmer shrugs. “Good thing, bad thing, who knows,” he says. A week later, the wayward horse finds its way home, and with it is a beautiful wild mare. “That’s amazing!” his brother says, admiring the new horse with no small envy. Again, the farmer is unmoved. “Good thing, bad thing, who knows,” he says. A few days later, the farmer’s son climbs up on the mare, hoping to tame the wild beast, but the horse bucks and rears, and the boy, hurled to the ground, breaks a leg. “How unlucky!” his brother says, with a tinge of satisfaction. “Good thing, bad thing, who knows,” the farmer replies again. The next day, the young men of the village are called into military service, but because the son’s leg is broken, he is excused from the draft. His brother tells the farmer that this, surely, is the best news of all. “Good thing, bad thing, who knows,” the farmer says. The farmer in this story didn’t get lost in “what if” but instead focused on “what is.”

Shetty, Jay. Think Like a Monk: Train Your Mind for Peace and Purpose Every Day (p. 58). Simon & Schuster. Kindle Edition.

Only time will tell if some events are good or bad for us. Though we assign values immediately when things happen, this may be a mistake. Instead, we need the patience to wait to see how things work out.

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