I would like to share with you an old Chinese Taoist story that goes something like this…
A farmer and his son had a beloved stallion who helped the family earn a living. One day, the horse ran away and their neighbors exclaimed, “Your
horse ran away, what terrible luck!” The farmer replied, “Maybe”…
A few days later, the horse returned home, leading two wild stallions back to the farm as well. The neighbors shouted out, “Your horse has returned,
and brought two horses home with him. What great luck!” The farmer replied, “Maybe”…
Later that week, the farmer’s son was trying to ride one of the stallions and the horse threw him to the ground, breaking his
leg. The villagers cried, “Your son broke his leg, what terrible luck!” The farmer replied, “Maybe”…
A few weeks later, soldiers from the army marched through town, recruiting all the able-bodied boys. They did
not take the farmer’s son, still recovering from his injury. The neighbors shouted, “Your boy is spared, what tremendous luck!” To which the farmer replied, “Maybe”…
The meaning that any event has depends upon
the "frame" (context) in which we perceive it.
Having two wild horses is a “good” thing until it is seen in the context of the son's broken leg. The broken leg seems to be “bad” in the context of peaceful village
life; but in the context of war, it suddenly becomes “good”.
No event, in and of itself, can truly be judged as good or bad, lucky or unlucky, fortunate or unfortunate. Assignment of meaning is based upon our interpretation
of the event. This assignment of meaning can create disorder and derail our pursuit of goals and of happiness by not allowing us to see a situation for what it really is. Distortion of situations, our filtered view, lead us to a place of misinterpretation,
misguided judgment and misinformed opinions.
We can change the way we interpret the events of our lives. This ability resides in our choice to “reframe” (change
the context) of how we view situations. When we change the frame, we change the meaning.
How? How do we go about changing how we view the world?
We need to recognize limiting beliefs and undesirable thought patterns. An example of a limiting
belief is: “I never get what I want”, “I always have bad luck”. An example of an undesirable thought is when we assign good or bad, lucky or unlucky, fortunate or unfortunate to situations to the degree that it is disruptive to
When we recognize our limiting beliefs and challenge them, “You, never get what want – NEVER
?” “You always have bad luck – ALWAYS ?” and begin to reframe
the thoughts, moving them away from absolutes of “never” “always” we begin to weaken the belief and decrease the chance of allowing a thought pattern, that no longer serves our highest and best, to get in the way of reaching a goal.
Recognizing that events or situations do not have inherent meaning – we assign meaning to them is the key.
Referring to the
Chinese story at the beginning of this article, the farmer experienced the events as they came without attaching a label, a value, to them. They were neither “good” nor “bad”, they just were.
This is not to make light
events that occur that can be viewed sad or tragic, but to realize that even events that are seemingly other than “positive” have to be viewed in proper context.
It is a great waste of time to judge minor inconveniences as misfortunes or
catastrophes, or, to invest tons of energy into things that look wonderful on the surface but may not pay off in the end.
We need to become aware of our negative (or other than positive) thought patterns that are so very limiting for us.
A wise thing would be to live life in moderation, keeping as even a temperament as possible, taking all things in stride, whether they originally appear to be “good” or “bad”.
To remain in a place of high alert (waiting for
the next shoe to drop) does a disservice to ourselves and our loved ones. Continually viewing our life experiences as all or nothing, good or bad, right or wrong without a middle ground of “it just is”, is dramatic and may be thrilling at
times, but the extreme highs and lows is exhausting and cheapens the journey.
Life is much more agreeable if we simply accept what we’re given and make the best of our circumstances instead of having to pass judgement on things and declare them
as good or bad, it would be better to just sit back and “go with the flow”.
Break away from limiting beliefs and thought patterns by recalling how, through the twists and turns of your life journey, your worrying and fretting over issues
has not changed an outcome…not once. Life works itself out. It really does.
The sky is not always falling Chicken Little…in fact, it hasn’t fallen yet.