Flow and emotional wellbeing

There are times when things seem to be going well. We then feel fortunate and happy. However, such good times also seem to last such a short while. So very soon, things seem to be falling apart.

In our fast-paced lives, we often feel overwhelmed with stress, anxiety, frustration, anger… No wonder, conversations about emotional wellbeing have come to the fore.

One way to protect our emotional wellbeing is our ability to go with the flow. I recently came across this story from ancient China, which outlines this principle so well. Here’s how it goes.

Once upon a time, there was an old farmer in China, Mr. Li. He had a horse which was his sole source of livelihood.

One day the horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors said “such bad luck,” they said sympathetically, “you must be so sad.”

“We’ll see,” said Mr. Li

Few days later, the horse returned, bringing along with it one more wild horse.

“How wonderful, Mr. Li” the neighbors said!  “Not only did your horse return, but you received one more.  What great fortune you have!”

“We’ll see,” answered the farmer.

The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses and broke his legs. The neighbors again offered sympathy.  “Oh..Mr. Li, now your son cannot help you, what terrible luch” they said.  

“We’ll see,” replied the old farmer.

Couple of weeks later, soldiers from imperial army came to the village to conscript young men into the army for an immediate war. Mr. Li’s son was spared. The neighbors congratulated and said. “Such great news. You must be so happy!”

Mr. Li smiled once again and said. “We’ll see,”

Moral of the Story – Neither good nor bad times last for ever! Everything in this world is bound to change..

It’s up to us to build the ability to go with the flow –

  • having the courage and belief that things will get better (when things are not going well)
  • having the humility to stay grounded when things are going well

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