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“Nothing in this world is good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” — Shakespeare

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This is a pretty bold statement, but this Shakespeare guy is pretty famous and a pretty smart dude, so what’s he saying here?  We can find it hard to believe that there isn’t good or bad in this world.  I mean, if someone punches you in the face, that is bad..right?  If I win the lottery, that is good..right?  Seems like there is good and bad.  Hmmm..let’s explore what he’s talking about.  How about that punch in the face???

The Punch In The Face

I think we all can agree that a punch in the face would probably hurt.  At least we will trust that it does.  So how is that not bad?  Let’s explore….  What if that punch in the face was when you were being really mean to someone and out of control?  What if that punch in the face was from someone being selfish and mean who was having a negative impact on your life?  Well, we could argue that punch in the face is good because it helped us realize what we were doing and helped us change our attitudes for the better.  Perhaps that punch in the face has encouraged us to remove that negative person from our lives.  The overall long term affects that come from that punch could completely change your life.  Maybe that punch could be good???

Yay, I Won The Lottery!!!

Well, I have never uttered those words, maybe you have.  Either way, if we win the lottery, wouldn’t that be good?  How could it be bad?  Well, if the lottery gave you more money to do things that negatively impact your life, like drug use, over drinking, or other nefarious actions, then it could be bad.  If winning the lottery made you so egotistical that you pushed all your friends and family away, then that would be bad.  But what if we only did good things with the money and took care much for our family and friends? Then winning the lottery would be perceived as good.  So, what is Shakespeare saying here???

“What You Talking Bout…” Shakespeare???

Shakespeare is trying to tell us that events are neither good nor bad, but how we interpret them is what counts.  It’s the stories we tell ourselves around those events and the actions that we take that could result in a negative or positive label.  We tend to have conditioned responses to how we interpret things.  Our gut reactions that force us to react and interpret before we even really think a given situation through.  If our conditioned stories associate negativity with a given event or situation, then we will label something as “bad.”  If our conditioned stories associate positivity with a given event or situation, then we will label something as “good.”  So really, “nothing in this world is good or bad,” only how we interpret what happens with the stories we tell ourselves.  That kinda DOES make sense.  So, how can we avoid the “bad” in life?

Avoid The “Bad” In Life

We can avoid the “bad” in life by not labeling things as “bad.”  Simply take each thing that happens and try to find something positive in it.  If we only find the positive in things, we won’t label things as “bad.”  If we think in positives, everything we experience will be positive.  For example, a few years ago, I tore my achilles tendon and was on crutches for eight months.  I gained a bunch of weight, the heaviest I have ever been, and was limited in what I could do for myself or anyone else.  But that was great because I was given an opportunity.  I was given the opportunity to gain compassion for people who suffer from illnesses and injuries.  People who can’t do what they want because their bodies are not capable.  I also was able to change my fitness strategy and become a healthier me.  I was able to experience the love from my family…  their concern and care for me and my health.  Believe it or not, I’m actually glad I tore my achilles tendon.  A lot of positive things came from it.

Final Thoughts

By trying to find the the positive in everything that happens, we can live happier lives.  Don’t jump to conclusions, tell yourself bad stories, and concede that something is “bad.”  Change the stories you tell yourself.  Make them positive stories.  If you respond poorly or think something is bad, take some time to reflect on your interpretation and how you could be more positive in your interpretation next time.  If you can change your stories to be positive stories, then you’ll start to see the world in a more positive light.  There will be less “bad” things in this world, and the “good” will shine through.  Perhaps Shakespeare knew what he was talking about after all!!!

Look for the “good” in everything!!!

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