Most of us have heard the story of the Chinese farmer and luck. It’s a series of losses and wins others judge as bad and good luck, but the farmer simply says “Bad luck, good luck, who knows?” 

Here’s a similar video on the Pursuit of Wonder channel called The Nova Effect – The Tragedy of Good Luck. This short story takes you through a series of incidents where Eric judges the outcomes prematurely based on whether or not they created stress or comfort for him. Here’s how the story unfolds:

Eric takes his dog Nova for a walk and loses him. (bad luck) After a week, Vanessa finds his dog and returns him to Eric and they start dating. (good luck) Eric drives to pick up Vanessa and is involved in an accident. (bad luck)

The doctor runs a CT brain scan to check for head injuries. Then he tells Eric, “I have some bad news and some good news.” The bad news is that we found a brain tumor. Eric says, “OK, what’s the good news.” The doctor says that the good news is that we found a brain tumor

Eric is totally confused. How can the same thing be both bad and good news? The doctor says that if it hadn’t been for the accident, which caused them to do the brain scan, the tumor wouldn’t have been discovered. By the time Eric would have noticed its presence, it would have been too late. He would have died from the tumor. So, the car accident actually saved his life. Eric reflects how something so bad could be so good and how something so good could be so bad. He realizes how little he knows about what anything actually means.

These stories are simple and clear examples of why The Warrior’s Way encourages eliminating the words “good” and “bad” from our vocabulary. They are labels attached to the immediate situation based on stress and comfort. Since learning requires stress, by labeling stress “bad”, we actually sabotage our learning process. Of course, we do this unconsciously. 

To break out of this unconscious habit, eliminate the words. See if you can express yourself without using them. I think you’ll find you have to struggle a bit more to do it, but you’ll also be more accurate in your description. Most of all, you won’t unconsciously sabotage your learning process and will begin moving beyond judging your immediate experiences. By not judging them good or bad, you’ll remain more open to how they unfold. Life happens in the unfolding of events. If you want to live a more aware life, then pay attention to how they unfold. Eliminating good and bad will help you do that. It’ll also help you enjoy the unfolding events more. What a bonus!

So, I encourage you to move beyond “Bad luck, good luck” to  “Who knows?”

Practice Tip: What’s Good About What’s Bad? 

Perceive events more accurately by eliminating the good and bad labels. Do this in phases: 

  1. Replace “stressful” for “bad” and “comfortable” for “good.” Doing this replacement will describe more precisely what you mean by the good and bad labels. 
  2. Simply describe what you want to say without using the words “good” and “bad.” Doing this will be harder, but you’ll be more precise in your descriptions. You’ll know better what you want to say and others will understand you better. 

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Brant

    We live in a society that trains us in the binary either/or way of looking at the world. There is a worldview that is not binary, it is inclusive: ‘and/all’ logic. Many traditions look at good/bad as just being 2 sides to the same coin. I try and look at the coin rather than each side. If I do this climbing, I find it easier to climb in the flow.

    1. Arno

      Nice Brant. Right on target. A major premise of the new book I’m writing is understanding, accepting, and living a both/and reality. Doing that certainly does help the flow with how challenges unfold. Thanks for sharing. a

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