My last post on chance had mixed reactions from the readers. Some readers readily agreed to it, while others questioned the impact of chance. I got a feedback, that you should try , work hard and be ready to progress in life, in any field. Absolutely true. The modern man does not believe in chance but hard work and grit. Yes, I agree with that.

As all of us know that some events impact us profoundly, while other not so. We then start categorizing events, into good or bad. Events which help us on our path, we brand them as good, while others we brand as bad. We get conditioned by this classification and we start expecting, that events should turn out to be good and when that does not happen we feel bad about it. Is it not? This conditioning creates a kind of suffering for us and we are not even aware of it, that it happens so subtly. Then how should we go about life, so as to minimize the suffering. Prof. Srikumar Rao suggests a strategy, to become resilient. He says, “Do not stick a label to it.”  Just do not brand any event good or bad.

This will prepare us for the mental resilience when an adverse event takes place and will keep us calm and grounded. How do you go about it? What are the ways, that you train your mind, to remain calm and grounded so that, you can respond appropriately. As suggested above, one practice could be – not to name any event as good or bad. This reminds me of a story.

“An old man lived in a verdant valley with his son, a handsome and dutiful youth. They lived an idyllic life despite a lack of material possessions and were very happy. So much so that feelings of envy arose in their neighbours.

The old man used practically all his savings to buy a young wild stallion. It was a beautiful creature and he planned to use it for breeding. The ame night he bought it, it jumped over the paddock and disappeared into the wild. The neighbours came over and commiserated. “How terrible”, they said.

“Good thing? Bad thing? Who knows?” said the old man.

Ten days later the stallion was back. It came with a herd of about dozen wild horses, and the old man was able to lure all of them into his paddock, which he fixed so escape was no longer possible.” What good fortune?” said the neighbours as they clustered around.

“Good thing? Bad thing? Who knows? “said the old man.

His son started to train the horses. One of them knocked him down and stomped on his leg. It healed crookedly and left him with a permanent limp.” Such misfortune” said the neighbours.

“Good thing? Bad thing? Who knows? “said the old man.

The next summer the king declared war. Press gangs came to the village and rounded up all able young men. The old man’s son was spared because of his game leg. “Truly are you lucky” exclaimed his neighbours as they bemoaned their own losses.

“Good thing? Bad thing? Who knows? “ said the old man.

That very winter…..

(From the book “Are You Ready to Succeed? Unconventional Strategies For Achieving Personal Mastery in Business and Life by Prof. Srikumar Rao)

Can we develop the attitude, the old man takes, in the story above? This will definitely help us, becoming more resilient and reduce our suffering. Is it not? Think about it. Think about what is bothering you right now? Can you adopt this way of looking at what is bothering you. Try and see what happens?

Am I Advocating inaction here? Absolutely not. You must try and do whatever you want to do, but with the attitude of, not labelling any event as good and bad. This will release, tremendous amount of energy, which is otherwise lost, in labelling events good or bad. And I am sure, this small change, will help you transform your life.

I would like to illustrate this point, with another story, from another book of Srikumar Rao. – “Happiness at Work – Be Resilient. Motivated and Successful – No matter what.”

“ He was a good swimmer , a very good swimmer, was training to compete in an important meet. He slipped on the patch of ice and broke his wrist. For weeks and weeks his coach kept him on the side-lines kicking, while his teammates practiced furiously. Initially he was devastated and felt that his career was over. Then he simply buckled down to doing what his coach told him to do.

At the meet in one of the crucial events, his opponent swam the race of his life. He was quite behind at the half way mark and should have lost. But the weeks of kicking had given him muscles he’d never had before. He kicked even harder and touched the finish wall whisker before his inspired opponent.

This swimmer was Michael Phelps. The event was 100 m butterfly in 2008 Beijing Olympics. He beat Milorad Cavic by 1/100th of a second to win his seventh gold medal. Frame by frame photographs showed a tired Cavic gliding with his legs while Phelps gave a final kick. ……..

So, when Phelps broke his wrist in the midst of his most intense training, was it a bad thing or a good thing? Who Knows?  A case can be certainly made that the injury was the best thing that ever happened to him. “