One of the really pervasive false beliefs we’ve accepted is that things have inherent meaning. Something happens and that automatically means something. As a result of believing this, we have become very facile with labeling things as good and bad. We think in terms of good and bad all the time. What good things happened today? What bad things happened today?
The truth is that nothing has meaning until you give it meaning. Everything that happens is neutral and then we each give it whatever meaning we choose.
There is a great line from the Disney movie “Kung Fu Panda” where Shifu runs in alarm to master Ugwei saying “Master, I have bad news!” Master Ugwei calmly answers: “There is no bad news. There is no good news. There is only news.”
Another way to think of this is as follows:
There is no good and bad. There is only truth and untruth.
We can assign good or bad meaning to things that are true as well as to things that are untrue. Truth is what happens- it rains, it snows, you get stuck in traffic, your company downsizes and you get laid off, your small business revenue is down. These are all just true facts. The meaning we choose to give them is what determines their impact on our lives. When we choose to give a negative meaning to an event or situation, we feel bad because our emotions are trying to sound the alarm that the meaning we’re choosing is not true. When we choose to give positive meanings to the same event or situation, we feel much better because our emotions are giving us feedback that the meaning we’ve chosen is more aligned with truth.
Questions to Ponder
-Can you think of a time in your past when something happened that you thought was bad news at the time, but looking back now you can see how it was a blessing in disguise?
-Can you think of a time when something happened that you thought was good news at the time that later turned out to be a major trial for you?