Good Luck, Bad Luck, Who Knows?

An elderly, hard-working Chinese farmer and his son, had a single horse. They used the horse to plow the field, to sow the seeds, grow the crop, and transport it to the market. The horse was essential for the farmer to earn his livelihood.

One morning, the horse broke the fence and ran away into the woods. When the neighbors found out that the only horse the farmer had, had run away, they came to solace him. They said – “Your only horse has run away just before the planting season. How will you till the land? How will you sow the seeds? This is unfortunate. This is bad luck.”

The farmer replied – “Good luck bad luck. Who knows?”  The wise farmer was unwilling to label this incident good luck or bad luck.

A few days later the farmer’s horse returned from the woods along with two other wild horses. When the neighbors found out the news, they said – ” Now you have three horses! You can till the land much faster with three horses. Maybe you can buy more land and sow more crop and make more money. Or you can sell the other two horses. Either way, you will be a rich man! This is good luck! “

The farmer replied – “Good luck bad luck. Who knows?” Again the wise farmer was unwilling to label this incident good luck or bad luck.

Next morning, the farmer’s son started training the wild horses to that they would help till the land. While attempting to mount one of the wild horses, he fell down and broke his leg. Just before the sowing season, the son would not be able to help the farmer with his broken leg. The neighbors came once again and commented – ” This is really unfortunate. This is bad luck.”

The wise farmer repeated – “Good luck, bad luck. Who knows?”

The wise farmer still was unwilling to label this incident good luck or bad luck.

A few days later, the king’s men started to visit each village in the kingdom. A war had started between their kingdom and a neighboring enemy state. The king’s men were enlisting the eldest son from each family to join the army so that they could defeat the enemy state. When they came to the farmer’s house they saw the son with the broken leg. He would not be of much use in the army and hence they didn’t take him. He was the only eldest son in the entire village who was not forcibly taken by the king’s men to fight the war. The neighbors, some of them with teary eyes, came once again to the farmer and commented – “Your son breaking his leg was really fortunate. He is the only one who was not taken. What a stroke of good luck.“

The farmer calmly replied – “Good luck, bad luck. Who knows?” Again, the wise farmer was unwilling to label it as either good luck or bad luck.


Have you had similar experiences in your own life? What you thought was a setback turned out to be a blessing? And what you thought was unfortunate turned out to be beneficial? However, in the interim, we go through an emotional roller-coaster of happiness and sadness based on how we label the incident!

As the quote says, a body in positive motion tends to stay in positive emotion!

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