Ways to Happiness: Looking for the Good

Another trick that can help speed things along on the journey to happiness is looking for the lesson and the gift in everything. If you look hard enough, you can find something to learn and some good in any situation.

Ways to Happiness: Looking for the Good
Many events and situations seem terrible at the time, but from our limited view, it's sometimes hard to tell what's bad and what‘s good. There's a famous Chinese story where a man loses his horse. Everyone says how terrible it is, but he says it could be bad, or it could be good, who can tell? Later, the horse returns with a second horse. Everyone says how great that is, but he says it could be good, or it could be bad, who can tell? His son loves riding the new horse, but falls off and breaks his leg. Everyone says how terrible that is, but he says it could be bad, or it could be good, who can tell? Later, all of the able-bodied young men are drafted to fight a battle, and most of them are killed, but the son can't go because of his broken leg. Everyone says how wonderful that is, but he says it could be good, or it could be bad, who can tell?

We never know how things will turn out, so we might as well assume there is some good in everything that happens. In fact, if we look for something to learn or something to appreciate and find it, then there is some good in it, even if there wasn't before.

In Happy for no Reason, Marci Shimoff recommends assuming that the universe is friendly and has your best interests at heart, and everything that happens is for your good. When I first read this, I thought it was naïve and silly, not to say blatantly untrue, but she recommends trying it for a week. You don't have to believe it for real, just assume it for the sake of argument, the way something is assumed at the beginning of a math proof. Then go about life and see how you feel.

Although I thought it was ridiculous, I tried it anyway. I couldn't believe how much better I felt! The more I looked at things this way—not even from belief, just from exploration of how it could be true—the more it seemed to be true, the more benevolent and nurturing the universe felt to me, and the easier I found it to In reality, the universe could be benevolent, malevolent, or neutral, but it almost doesn't matter. If you assume that everything happens for your benefit somehow, and use that assumption to look for the good or something to learn in each situation, then you really do get something good out of every situation. Who wouldn't want that? It's like magic with no magic required.

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