An instructive story of a wise Chinese old man about happiness.
In a Chinese village, he was a poor farmer who made a living from a small field where he worked with his wife and son and with the help of a horse. One day, the fence was inadvertently left open and the horse escaped. When the neighbors heard the news, they shouted: “Poor thing, what an accident, how are you going to work now?” ran away with a herd of wild horses that were locked in a barn. The neighbors, seeing all those horses, exclaimed: “What luck”! And the farmer replied once more: “Happiness or misfortune, who can know”?
Neighbors were even more confused when they heard that answer.
A few days later, while his son was taming one of the horses, he fell to the ground and broke his leg. The neighbors immediately exclaimed, “What bad luck, how are you going to work now”? And the farmer replied once more, “Happiness or misfortune, who can know?” is crazy “?! After a few weeks, some soldiers appeared in the village who were recruiting young people for the war. When they entered the hut, they found a lame young man and naturally rejected him, while all the other young men were recruited. Neighbors shouted again: “What happiness!” And the old farmer once again answered unhindered: “Happiness or misfortune, who can know that”!
Trick question: are their luck and misfortune?
If we were, to sum up, this story as a symbol, this would surely be the Tao: nothing is absolute, everything changes, and everything mutates. Everything is emerging and therefore evolving in a way that will remain unknown to us in the long run, so it is useless to spend time and energy assessing whether a particular event stems from happiness or unhappiness: none of them actually exists, because as a particular event that will develop then, over time, will depend on how we experience it and how we react to it. The old peasant teaches us exactly this: who can say whether happiness or misfortune accompanies you in life? Nobody, so there is no need to waste time on that because no one will ever get an answer. It is a false question that only serves to lose sight of what is really important in your life. If you put your life in the hands of chance, happiness, or unhappiness, how can you change it?
Happiness or bad luck, it doesn’t matter – it matters how you react to life.
Happiness and unhappiness are beyond our reach and seem to be dictated by a supreme and capricious force. Who then could oppose such a force? If Heaven falls on me, what are my chances of being saved? None.
But, if I consider events simply neutral (which do not originate from happiness or bad luck), I give myself the opportunity to act, to take the reins of my life, not leaving them to chance. Bad luck and luck or mistake and lesson? By accepting events simply as part of my journey, I have the opportunity to improve my experience (and make new ones), learn some important lessons and try to prevent the event from happening again, my knowledge spreads to sectors that were completely unknown to me.
To return to the story, what we can say beyond the concept of happiness or bad luck is that there is a mistake and a lesson. The mistake, recognized as such and not fatal, leads us to figure out how to prevent the mistake from happening again: if a farmer left the door open with only one horse, he will now check several times, especially now that there are more.
In learning, experience is perfected, knowledge is expanded, and certain skills are developed. Indirectly, the mistake invites us to grow and it is a gift. The perception of happiness brings temporary gifts, which rarely last over time, but solving the problem instead, becomes a part of you and you can replicate it at will, which you cannot with happiness.
“A WISE PERSON IS NOT THE ONE WHO MAKES FEWER MISTAKES, BUT THE ONE WHO LEARNS THE MOST FROM HIS MISTAKES.” ~ Harvey B. Mackay
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