We live in a world where things often go wrong. In fact, you can divide all of your life into three basic kinds of time segments:
1. The time when you're waiting for something to happen, wanting it to happen, and perhaps doing all you can to make it happen,
2. The time when it either happens, and you're glad, maybe even elated, or perhaps relieved, or else,
3. The time when it was supposed to happen and didn't, and you're either sad, or mad, discouraged, or even worse.
In the book by Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha, published in 1922, which I wrote about yesterday, there's one very interesting story. The young man Siddhartha is working for a very successful and wealthy businessman. The rich man is always worried about something, or angry when anything doesn't go right. Siddhartha is never worried or angry. He treats business like a sport to play, and in a very pure way, where he simply enjoys the playing, without any concern about who wins or loses. And because of his attitude, he wins much more often than he loses.
One day, he makes a trip to a distant town where he's hoping to purchase a crop that he and his partner can then resell for a major profit. But when he arrives at the town, he learns the deal has already been made, with someone else. Rather than reacting with sadness, anger, frustration, irritation, regret, resentment, concern or worry, fuming that he's wasted all the time and energy of travel for nothing, he quickly turns nothing into something. He meets the people of the town and gets to know them. He visits with them, eats with them, and plays with their children. He has a wonderful time making new friends with those who will probably now very much want to do business with him in the future. His older partner wouldn't likely have done any of this, but would typically have stormed off in a huff, furious that he'd missed the great opportunity he'd pursued.
A CEO once told me that it's his job to worry. And from what I could see, he does it very well. But is that really a mission critical job? What does his worry accomplish that simple planning, checking, and exercising vigilant care couldn't do? I can't see how the worry, the tension of anxiety, adds anything to the mix of productive endeavor. Most negative emotions, in most situations, are the same. Our hero, Siddhartha, by not worrying or allowing any negative emotions to overtake him, was easily able to turn nothing into something. He showed how we can all be opportunistic in a very positive way, at those times when things initially don't seem to go our way, and, in fact, in almost any situation in which we find ourselves. We can deal positively and creatively with whatever happens, and make the best of it.
And I can't think of anything better than that.