How quick are you to label experiences good or bad?
Are you on a constant roller coaster through life, getting attached to ‘the good’ and having an aversion to ‘the bad?’
There’s an old Chinese story that goes like this (as I’ve heard and understand it):
A farmer has many horses that give him status and wealth. When other villagers go on about how good it is to have these horses, his answer is: “Good or bad, who’s to say?”
One day the horses breach his fence, break free and run away. The villagers are quick to point out how terrible and awful that is. What a bad predicament! The man again answers: “Good or bad, who’s to say?”
The man’s son goes out and starts looking for the horses that have escaped. A few weeks later he returns with the horses along with a few wild horses who had joined the herd. The villagers tell the man how wonderful it is that he now has his horses back along with a few more! Again, he replies: “Good or bad, who’s to say?”
A few days later, in an attempt to tame and train the wild horses, the man’s son is thrown off, and breaks his leg. When the villagers hear about the injury they feel so sorry for the man and his son. How terrible! Once again, the man replies: “Good or bad, who’s to say?”
The son must rest and recover and let his leg heal. During his recovery the army marches into town looking to recruit all able-bodied young men to fight in the war. Because of his injury, the son is unable to join the fight. That is very good luck, the villagers say. And again, the man replies: “Good or bad, who’s to say?”
By not labeling the situation as good or bad the man in the story is able to find peace.
Ready to get off the roller coaster?
Are you able to choose off the roller coaster of being happy when something ‘good’ happens to then go downhill emotionally/mentally when something ‘bad’ happens?
When things don’t go as expected on the water, I like to remind my clients of this story.
You can’t always control what happens to you, but you can control how you respond to what happens.
The next time you find yourself on the roller coaster, high or low, ask yourself, “good or bad, who’s to say?”
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