Nothing Bad Ever Happens

Last week I landed myself a parking citation.

If that wasn’t enough, over the weekend a truck backed into my car which was parked on the street. Naturally, it left a sizable dent in the passenger door while the truck sustained no damage.

Toss in a night of doing homework until 4 am, and you’d agree, this is starting to show the tell-tale signs of a “bad week”.

However, it’s moments like these that demand a little bit of perspective. And I’m not talking about the you-better-be-grateful-cause-there-are-starving-children-in-china type of perspective. Sure, we could all have it worse (I could have been the driver of that truck). I’m referring to the fact that for every bad situation, there are positive consequences that come from it, if we choose to see them. My parking citation taught me a valuable lesson: parking registration at BYU will expire if it is in your spouse’s name and she graduates. I also learned that you can appeal online to have your citation reduced. In the near future I’ll learn how merciful BYU’s hearings officers can be.

As for the accident, I’ll admit that I’ve never gone through the process of filing an insurance claim for my vehicle. While it may be awkward going through the process for the first time, it will be valuable to learn how to do it. Maybe I’ll see how to make the process smoother next time. Lets be honest… without the accident, I’d never have learned it. Who wants to stay at home on a Friday night and practice filling out insurance claims forms just to make sure they “get the hang of it”.

Not me.

There are no one-sided coins. The same globalization that puts employees at the paper mill in Ohio out of work, makes our free market economy leaner and stronger. Those who complain about sky high gas prices often don’t realize that it is by far the most effective way to promote fuel efficient vehicles and alternative sources of energy. Wildfires clear out underbrush and make forests healthier. Each serving of bad fortune, comes with a touch of grace. With help from a little good attitude, each bad experience broadens our perspective, builds our patience, and teaches us more about the world around us.

Once you look at the world this way, you start to realize that nothing bad ever happens. All bad things coming our way will inevitably stretch our capacities in one way or another. This is good! And all good things coming our way are, well, good (and therefore not bad). All things considered, the world isn’t so bad after all.

I think of these words spoken by Shakespeare’s Hamlet:

“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”

Hamlet spoke these words while describing how the palaces and lands of Denmark seemed to be a prison to him. Just as we can find good in bad situations, we can likewise see bad in the good. Receiving nice gifts raises future expectations and sets you up for letdowns to come. Eating out is expensive, fattening, and does nothing to improve your cooking skills. Natural talent fuels pride. Like I said there are no one-sided coins.

Parking citations. High gas prices. Doing homework until 4 in the morning. These things are going to happen whether we look for the good in them or not. So lets just do it. At the very least, we’ll be able to raise our glasses and toast to a life of opportunities for growth.