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The Uncertainty Principle

Chapter 17 of the book Self-Help Stuff That Works

by Adam Khan

TWO SAILORS RAN INTO each other in a pub. Over a few beers, one of the men told the other about his last voyage: "After a month at sea," he said, "we discovered our masts had been eaten through by termites! Almost nothing left of them."

"That's terrible," said the second sailor.

"That's what I thought at first too," the first sailor said, "but it turned out to be good luck. As soon as we took the sails down to fix the masts, we were hit by a squall so suddenly and so hard, it would surely have blown us over if our sails were up at the time."

"How lucky!"

"That's exactly what I thought at the time too. But because our sails were down, we couldn't steer ourselves, and because of the wind, we were blown onto a reef. The hole in the hull was too big to fix. We were stranded."

"That is bad luck indeed."

"That's what I thought, too, when it first happened. But we all made it to the beach alive and had plenty to eat. But now here's the real kicker: While we were on the island whining about our terrible fate, we discovered a buried treasure!"

As this story illustrates, you don't know if an event is "good" or "bad" except maybe in retrospect, and even then you don't really know because life keeps going. The story's not over yet. Just because something hasn't turned out to be an advantage yet doesn't mean it is not ever going to.

Therefore, you can simply assume whatever happens is "good."

I know that sounds awfully airy-fairy, but it's very practical. If you think an event is good, it's easy to maintain a positive attitude. And your attitude affects your health, it affects the way people treat you and how you treat others, and it affects your energy level. And those can help pave the way for things to turn out well. A good attitude is a good thing. And a bad attitude does you no good at all.


 


So get in the habit of saying "That's good!" Since you don't know for sure whether something will eventually work to your advantage or not, you might as well assume it will. It is counterproductive to assume otherwise. Think about it.

If someone ahead of you in line at a store is slowing everything down, say to yourself, "That's good!" They may have saved you from getting into an accident when you get back in your car. Or maybe because you slowed down, you might meet a friend you would have missed. You never know.

The truth is, life is uncertain. And even that can work to your advantage.

When something "bad" happens, say to yourself, "That's good!"

There are no circumstances, no matter how unfortunate, that clever people do not extract some advantage from; and none, no matter how fortunate, that the unwise cannot turn to their own disadvantage.
-Francois de La Rochefoucauld

A pessimist is one who makes difficulties
of his opportunities; an optimist makes
opportunities of his difficulties.
- Reginald B. Mansell

If worry is a problem for you, or even if you would like to simply worry less even though you don't worry that much, you might like to read this:
 The Ocelot Blues

Here's a conversational chapter on optimism from a future book:
Conversation on Optimism

Learn how to prevent yourself from falling into the common traps we are all prone to because of the structure of the human brain:
 Thoughtical Illusions

next: Unpleasant Feelings

APA Reference
Staff, H. (2008, October 30). The Uncertainty Principle, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, October 29 from https://www.healthyplace.com/self-help/self-help-stuff-that-works/uncertainty-principle

Last Updated: March 31, 2016

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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