Good Thing Bad Thing Who Knows
A man and his son lived in a beautiful valley and they were very happy, but they were also dirt poor.
One day, the man got tired of being dirt poor and he wanted to be rich so he decided he was going to become rich by breeding horses, so he bought a stallion.
He didn’t have any money to buy the stallion, so he borrowed very heavily from his neighbors and he bought a stallion.
But the fate so happened that the very night he bought a stallion, it kicked the top bar loose from the paddock where he had housed it and ran away. All the neighbors came around and there was some shrapnel thrown in there.
They said, “You were going to become rich and your horse ran away. You’ve grown even more poorer and you are in debt now. It is terrible.”
The man shrugged his shoulder and said “Good thing, bad thing, who knows.”
Meanwhile, the horse that ran away, fell in with a group of wild horses in the jungle. It led the wild horses close to where the man was and he was able to entice 10 of them into the paddock, which he had repaired. The escape was now no longer possible for the horses.
So, previously he had just one horse even which had ran away, but now the original stallion was back as well as 10 other horses!
Now, this event, by the standards of that village, made him a very wealthy man.
Again all the neighbors came around, and there was more than a touch of envy as they congratulated him on his good fortune.
“You are one lucky man.”
“We thought you were destitute but now you’re rich.”
Again the man looked at them and shrugged his shoulders and said, “Good thing, bad thing, who knows.”
Few days later, the man and his son started to try breaking the horses so they could sell them at the market. Unfortunately, one of the horses threw the man’s son and stomped on his leg. The son’s leg broke and even though it healed later, it couldn’t heal back completely and it became crooked.
All the neighbors came around once again and started talking as usual.
“He was such a fine young lad, now he will never be able to find a girl to marry him. How unfortunate!”
Yet the man shrugged his shoulder and said,”Good thing, bad thing, who knows.”
Now that summer, the king of the country declared war on a neighboring country and press gangs moved throughout all the villages. The king wanted young men to serve in his army and so they started rounding up the able-bodied young men from the entire kingdom and even from this village.
They took all the neighbor’s sons while the man’s son was left back home as he had a crooked leg. Fearing the fate of their children, the neighbors came with tears in their eyes and they said,
“Oh, our sons have been taken away. We don’t know if we will ever see them again, but you still have your son.”
“You are such a fortunate father.”
And we all know what the man said back to the neighbors by now don’t we?
“Good Thing Bad Thing Who Knows.”
The story of the man goes on like that forever.
Moral Of The Story?
The point that this story is trying to make is that in life when something happens to you, you do not necessarily know whether it is a good thing or a bad thing.
What seems like a bad outcome at first may trigger a set of positive downstream consequences. Missing a flight, for example, might lead you to meet the dream of your life, your life partner.
Similarly, what starts out as a positive event might trigger a bunch of negative downstream consequences. Your dream job might lead you to become stressed out and eventually to a divorce. Likewise, winning the lottery might lead you to lose your close friends.
Even a seemingly good event can turn into a bad one and even from the worst event something great could spring forth.
Bottom Line: Do not base your happiness on the outcome of events.
This story was extracted from an excellent online course on happiness entitled “A Life of Happiness and Fulfillment” by Dr. Rajagopal Raghunathan. The whole course is beautifully designed as it is interestingly engaging and enlightening at the same time. The course is available at Coursera.