Last week, I was reminded of a story; an old Chinese proverb, which offers us valuable lessons in perspective.

An old farmer lived in a small village with his teenage son. He worked hard in the fields and his meager possessions were limited. The most valuable of his belongings was a work horse, which he used for tilling his fields. One day, the horse escaped into the hills seemingly lost forever.

The man’s neighbors visited and sought to sympathize with the old man over his bad luck.

“We are sorry for your bad luck” They would tell him, shaking their heads in sympathy . The farmer, lifting his hands gently as if balancing a scale, replied,“Bad luck? Good luck? Who knows?”

Two days later, the farmer and his son were working in the fields. The sun was slowly creeping behind the hills in the distance. They caught sight of a horse cresting the mount. Their horse had returned with a herd of other wild horses. The son quickly corralled the horses and the neighbors were in awe of the farmer’s good luck. He responded with the same reply as before. “Good luck? Bad luck? Who knows?”

The next day, the farmer’s son attempted to tame one of the wild horses. As he rode in the corral, he fell off the horse and broke his leg. As you can imagine, this was believed by all the neighbors to be very bad luck. However, the farmer replied. . .  “Bad luck? Good luck? Who knows?”

Several weeks later, the army commanders entered the village seeking every able bodied youth they could find to fight in the war. As they came to the old farmer’s home, they had no use for a boy with a broken leg. He was dismissed…Good luck? Bad luck? Who knows?

This story offers us a wonderful lesson in perception. Our tendency and human nature is to judge our circumstances as good or bad, positive or negative. When we consider emotion, this initial judgment hooks us and begins a rapid series of events. When we judge a given event as negative, we will experience an emotion based on that appraisal. Eckart Tolle, in his book, “A New Earth” stated, “Unconscious assumptions create emotions in the body which in turn generate. . . instant reactions. In this way, they create your personal reality.” (p. 135).

Good luck, bad luck . . . who knows. This perspective allows us to remain in a state a neutrality. It enables us to surrender to a greater purpose. When we place judgment too early, we create a personal reality that might not serve us. We do not know where our journey lies and we cease to allow events to unfold as they must. Our experiences are designed to help us learn from the past, live and appreciate the present, and prepare us for a future. When we release the natural urge to place judgment on our circumstances, we can actually manage our own growth and learning process more effectively, We can also change our personal reality.