According to Shakespeare: "Nothing is either good or bad but thinking makes it so.” Life is actually neutral. I believe it is our own perception of life challenges that causes us pain. We give everything in our life its meaning. We make ourselves upset by what we tell ourselves about a particular experience. We only see how the conditions affect the present time, seeing through the filters of our own beliefs. Our perception of things is limited; we cannot see the whole picture. Years later we may see the real implication of a significant event in our life. What we once judged as “bad” actually may have been a turning point in one’s life.
Here is an ancient Chinese story, found in the Tao of Pooh that reflects this point of view. This old man has the philosophy that in the long run you never know whether something is good or bad. Wait and see.
In ancient China an old man lived with his son. One day he lost his only horse. All his neighbors came by to commiserate with him on his ill fortune. The old man countered, "What makes you think this is ill fortune?" Next month the horse returned, bringing with it a herd of other horses. The neighbors returned to congratulate the old man on his good fortune. The old man answered, "What makes you think this is good fortune?" With so many horses at hand, the old man's son took to riding and one day fell off and broke his leg. The neighbors were back to commiserate with the old man on his bad luck. The old man said, "Why do you think this is bad luck?" It happened that the next year there was a war and because the old man's son could not walk, he did not have to fight.
There is no good news. There is no bad news. There is just news. Thus, we see that events in themselves are neutral. It is the interpretation that we place upon them that give them meaning. I believe our primary purpose as spiritual beings, in human form, is to evolve into a deeper awareness of this spiritual self. We are here to recognize our inherent worth. Sometimes it takes an external challenge to force us to go within to find that inner connection.
I invite you to state these affirmations when you are in a situation that causes you to move into judgment:
I am willing to withhold my personal judgment about this event.
I accept this experience as a gift that is masquerading as a challenge.
I ask for Divine assistance. Help me to see this situation with new eyes.
I choose to focus on whatever good I can glean from this experience.
I trust that God will take care of the details that I do not understand.