‘There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.’ –William Shakespeare
Thinking about the events in your life in terms of ‘good’ or ‘bad’ is outdated and must be excised from your life. They are nothing but judgemental thoughts that appear in your mind to make sense of the world that we live in. They exist to guide us in our life. Often, they are helpful in our survival and prosperity, but they can also be detrimental when they distort our sense of reality and place limitations on our perception.
Most of the time, our sense of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ are vague references that reflect our opposing emotions: pleasure and pain. If something pleasures our senses, makes us feel happy, or we simply believe that it will lead to a favourable outcome in the future, we call it good. If something gives us pain and suffering, threatens us, or makes us feel sad, worried, or angry, we call it bad. But is everything really that simple that our lives should be directed by those two opposing concepts? There are many flaws to simplifying the world this way. For example, sugary food may give you pleasure, so you might consider it good, but at the same time, it damages your health. Strenuous exercise, on the other hand, is difficult and exhausting. It’s not a comforting activity, but you are rewarded with a stronger and healthier body. The truth is that you never know for sure what one event or an action will lead to in the future. This is demonstrated beautifully by the story of the Taoist farmer.
Another important aspect of reacting to the events of the world in terms of ‘good’ or ‘bad’ is that you end up neglecting your own ability to interpret the world. We humans have an incredible capacity to take a given situation and frame it many different ways. When faced with a hardship or a failure, one man may interpret the situation as a catastrophe or a punishment from the heavens and be completely helpless in the face of it. Meanwhile, another man will interpret the same situation as a challenge and maintain his fortitude to learn from the experience and do his best to overcome it. When you define your experiences as being either good or bad, you are essentially robbing yourself of your free will. You are choosing to be someone who is powerlessly being acted upon by the world instead of being someone who acts.
There is an emotional aspect to this as well. What you think of as being ‘good’ or ‘bad’ is not simply a reflection of your mental state; it also works the other way around with your perception also influencing your mental state. While most of us let our minds drift around and automatically react to whatever it perceives, there are few who have the self-awareness required to understand that mental state can be controlled. With mastery over your own mind, you are able to reframe your situations and consciously dictate your emotional state as you would with your facial expression. This takes patience and practice, but it is possible for anyone to achieve this.
It is important to be aware that our minds were designed based on the kind of environment that we have evolved in during our primal times. In our modern times, not only do we live in a completely different environment from our primal ancestors, but our perception of the world has become utterly distorted due to material conditions we live in and the media climate that we are exposed to. We live in a world that is profoundly complex and we are exposed to much more information than what is necessary for our own survival. Our minds were not designed for the kind of society that we live in, so to simplify our daily experiences as being either ‘good’ or ‘bad’ would be a grand mistake.
It’s more important than ever before to be aware of your own mind as human beings. Your mind does not always tell the truth as to what is beneficial to you or not—and it often neglects the long-term consequences. Your mind is also very confused about the importance and the magnitude of matters that surround your life. In the face of a comfortable life, trivial matters will seem larger than life. Also, be aware of the System’s multifaceted methods of influencing you. There are external forces that try to manipulate your thoughts, emotions, and actions using this very simple effect of push and pull that are generated by inseminating the idea of something being either ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ You must resist all these attempts at controlling your existence and think for yourself.