There is an old Chinese story of a farmer who used an old horse to till his fields. One day, the horse escaped into the hills and when the farmer’s neighbors sympathized with the old man over his bad luck, the farmer replied, “Bad luck? Good luck? Who knows?” A week later, the horse returned with a herd of horses from the hills and this time the neighbors congratulated the farmer on his good luck. His reply was, “Good luck? Bad luck? Who knows?”
Then, when the farmer’s son was attempting to tame one of the wild horses, he fell off its back and broke his leg. Everyone thought this very bad luck. Not the farmer, whose only reaction was, “Bad luck? Good luck? Who knows?”
Some weeks later, the army marched into the village and conscripted every able-bodied youth they found there. When they saw the farmer’s son with his broken leg, they let him off. Now was that good luck or bad luck?
The truth is “good” and “bad” are just judgment calls we make up in our minds. The truth is that there are many situations in our lives that we can never really know the “truth”. We can always choose what we want to believe, because really there is no good, there is no bad – there is only how we choose to see it.
How are we to know that we may have missed getting into a car accident because we hit every red light on the way to work? or that the person who broke our heart taught us exactly what we will need to know to be enormously happy with our next love? In those moments when life seems to be throwing its worst at us, sometimes it is less about truth and more about choice.
So next time it seems like you are on a run of bad luck, try to stay out of judgment. Down the road the things you would call bad luck today, could become the very same things you are grateful for tomorrow.