3 Ideas in 2 Minutes on the Struggle of Life
The Power of Bad Luck, Backwards Law & a Joke
I. The Power of Bad Luck
How would you react if someone wished you bad luck? Perhaps applaud. Had you been in the audience of Chief Justice John Roberts’ commencement speech of 2017. Here’s an excerpt from the remarks the US Supreme Court justice made at his son’s high school graduation:
From time to time in the years to come, I hope you will be treated unfairly, so that you will come to know the value of justice. I hope that you will suffer betrayal because that will teach you the importance of loyalty. Sorry to say, but I hope you will be lonely from time to time so that you don’t take friends for granted.
I wish you bad luck, again, from time to time so that you will be conscious of the role of chance in life and understand that your success is not completely deserved and that the failure of others is not completely deserved either. And when you lose, as you will from time to time, I hope every now and then, your opponent will gloat over your failure. It is a way for you to understand the importance of sportsmanship. I hope you’ll be ignored so you know the importance of listening to others, and I hope you will have just enough pain to learn compassion.
Whether I wish these things or not, they’re going to happen. And whether you benefit from them or not will depend upon your ability to see the message in your misfortunes.
II. Backwards Law
In life, things tend to turn out differently than we think. Philosopher Alan Watts has described this phenomenon as the Backwards Law:
I have always been fascinated by the law of reversed effort. Sometimes I call it the ‘backwards law.’ When you try to stay on the surface of the water, you sink; but when you try to sink, you float. When you hold your breath, you lose it — which immediately calls to mind an ancient and much neglected saying, ‘Whosoever would save his soul shall lose it.’
—Alan Watts, The Wisdom of Insecurity
III. A Joke
It seems like we have at least two options: Either get exasperated by the absurd struggle of life. Or see the humour in it.
Life is a joke that's just begun!
—W.S. Gilbert, The Mikado
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Have a great week,