The Chinese Farmer


Falling into the “The grass is always greener on the other side” mindset can be a dangerous negativity trap! So here are two ways to get out 🙂

You can take the long term approach and practice accepting the whole reality, exactly how it is, and find lasting happiness, or take or the short-term way, and water the grass on YOUR side of the fence! 

There are certain situations when we need to take significant action to escape a wholly negative environment, such as taking action to avoid an abusive relationship, workplace bullying, or other universally detrimental scenarios (Check out The Other 1% article); but 99% of the time, a focus on improving the present reality is best.

To demonstrate why jealousy of the greener grass on the other side of the fence is unreliable, inaccurate, and non-sensical, the story of the Chinese Farmer reminds us that we can never know the repercussions of any event. We can never know that some other outcome could be better or worse, but we can lay in the grass we have grown. It goes like this:

Once there was a Chinese farmer who worked his poor farm with his son and their horse. One day, the horse ran off, and neighbours came and said “How unfortunate for you!”. The farmer was grateful for their concern, but only replied, “Maybe.”

The horse returned the next day, followed by seven wild horses, the neighbours gathered again and exclaimed, “What good luck for you!” The farmer smiled calmly and replied, “Maybe”.

The next day, while trying to tame one of wild horses, the farmer’s son fell off and broke his leg. “Oh how sad for you!” the neighbours cried. “Maybe” repeated the farmer.

Shortly thereafter, the local Army conscription officers came knocking to recruit soldiers to be sent to join the war. Many young men were being killed, but the farmer’s son had a broken leg and was left at home to recover.

People said to the farmer, “What a good thing your son couldn’t fight!”

“Maybe” was all the farmer said.


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