The Parable of the Chinese Farmer

During the most recent episode of the documentary on Tom Brady called Man in the Arena, he shared the parable of the Chinese farmer. I had heard the parable about 5 years ago and think of it often.

The Parable

There was a Chinese farmer whose horse ran away. All his friends came to him and said “we are so sorry that your horse ran away, what a terrible thing.”

He replied “We’ll see” (some versions use “maybe” instead of “we’ll see”)

Two days later, the horse came back and with him, he had seven wild horses. The farmer’s friends said to him “Wow! That is so awesome.”

He replied, “We’ll see”.

The next day his son was riding one of the new horses. The horse bucked him off and the son broke his leg. The farmer’s friends said “Oh, how terrible. What an awful thing.”

The farmer replied, “We’ll see”.

The next day officers from the army came to the village to enlist all of the young people to go to battle. The son was not chosen to go to battle because of his broken leg. Again the farmer’s friends said, “That is so great!”

And again the farmer said, “We’ll see”.

Big Takeaway

There is something really freeing and powerful when we can avoid the roller coaster of life and stay consistently centered.

Too often things that have happened in my life that appeared to be “bad” turned out to be a blessing. And vice versa…things that I thought were awesome, turned out to be really hard. In both cases, I learned valuable lessons.

In his book “The Attributes” Rich Diviney defines resilience this way…’the ability to rapidly return to one’s baseline emotional and mental state after a stressful, traumatic, or even triumphant event.’

I want to be resilient. I desire to consistently get back to a healthy ‘baseline emotional state’ after both negative and positive events in my life.

I think there is a time and place to celebrate when something happens that appears to be ‘good’. I also think there can and should be a grieving process over things that you deem really tough or catastrophic.

However, if we don’t return to our baseline emotional state we can end up being on an emotional roller coaster.

The men and women I am drawn to are those who have a sturdiness to them. They are positive, bring good energy, and don’t let life’s events sway them dramatically one way or the other.

I want to be that person!

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Travis Wyckoff

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