Many years ago a wise peasant farmer lived in China.
He had a son whom he loved very much. He also was the proud owner of a prized stallion which everyone admired. One day his horse escaped from his grounds and disappeared. The villagers came to him one by one and said: “You are such an unlucky man. It is such bad luck that your horse escaped.” The peasant responded: “ Who knows. Maybe it’s bad, maybe it’s good.” The next day the stallion returned followed by 12 wild horses. The neighbours visited him again and congratulated him on his luck. Again, he just said: “Who knows. Maybe it’s good, maybe it’s bad.”
As it happened, the next day his son was attempting to train one of the wild horses when he fell down and broke his leg. Once more everyone came with their condolences: “It’s terrible.” Again, he replied: “Who knows. Maybe it’s good, maybe it’s bad.” A few days passed and his poor son was limping around the village with his broken leg, when the emperor’s army entered the village announcing that a war was starting and they were enrolling all the young men of the village. However, they left the peasant’s son since he had a broken leg. Everyone was extremely jealous of the peasant. They talked about his sheer good luck, while the old man just muttered: “Who knows. Maybe it’s good, maybe it’s bad.”
This is one of my favorite proverbs because it perfectly describes the dichotomy of how life is (the farmers view) as opposed to how we view it (the villagers). We tend to take a very reductionistic view of life. We judge people, events or situations in isolation and lose sight of how that event fits into the bigger picture our life. We judge things as right or wrong and that immediately creates an emotional response within us, possibly putting us on a roller coaster ride of emotions where we suffer more in our minds than in reality.
Holism is a concept I use in clinic everyday. I try not look at pain symptoms but rather how does the dysfunction fit into the bigger picture of what’s really going wrong in the body. I don’t chase pain and try to see the big picture of what’s going on. Taking an holistic approach doesn’t just have to happen in an alternative medicine setting. It will benefit all aspects of your life.
So next time a situation creates a negative response within you and you start to judge and emotionally react, take a step back and try view the situation in a holistic context. It’s easier said than done (I’m still trying to get it right) but if we can observe an event simply for what it is, a small part of a much larger picture, then it becomes easier to to just observe behavior or situations without judging it. This can make life a little more enjoyable no matter the circumstances.