My Broken Ankle is an Opportunity in Disguise

A very old Chinese Taoist story describes a farmer in a poor country village. His neighbors considered him very well-to-do. He owned a horse which he used for plowing and for transportation. One day his horse ran away. All his neighbors exclaimed how terrible this was, and would say, “wow you have such bad luck and misfortune.” The farmer would simply reply with, “Maybe.”

A few days later the horse returned and brought two wild horses with it. The neighbors all rejoiced at his good fortune and said,“wow you are luckiest man in the village!” The farmer would reply back with, “Maybe.”

The next day the farmer’s son tried to ride one of the wild horses. The horse threw him and the son broke his leg. The neighbors all offered their sympathy for his misfortune and would again say, “wow you have such terrible luck.” The farmer would continue to reply with, “Maybe.”

The next week conscription officers came to the village to take young men for the army. They rejected the farmer’s son because of his broken leg. The neighbors said, “wow, you still are the luckiest man in the village.” The farm still replied with “Maybe.”

Our perception is how we view the series of events that occur in our lives. The reality is that ‘good’ events will not always happen in your life. What exactly do I mean by ‘good’? Especially considering that a ‘good’ event to me can be a ‘bad’ event to you. So classifying an event as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ or ‘positive’ or negative’ is completely up to you, right?

Two days ago, I was a car accident with my brother. He was driving his car straight and we were hit by someone making a left turn. The car was completely totaled and my brother left the accident with a broken wrist while I came out with a broken ankle. Luckily, we were literally right in front of a hospital, so it was quite a short trip to the ER room.
My parents were feeling sorry for us and gave us a speech about how sometimes people have plain old bad luck, just like the neighbors in the story of the Chinese Farmer. I answered them with something much unexpected. I said that this accident is more of an opportunity for me because being stuck at home allows me to have more time to work on myself.

AJ Kumar

I am a strong believer in personal development and am always interested in finding new ways to grow. So for the next 6 weeks, I’ll be taking advantage of my situation and taking powerful leaps to bettering myself. Also, this is my first and hopefully my last broken bone, so now I get to experience my life in ways that I would never have before. Walking in someone else’s shoes so to speak. My parents were also quite amazed at how cheery and playful I was with the nurses in the ER room. Seeing me in that room, you would never think of me as a patient.

Your life will be a time line of events. It is your choice to whither they be ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Every event will have its positive effect along with a negative effect, but it is up to you to which effect you choose to dwell on.

Have you ever had an event that happened in your life that was portrayed as ‘bad’ to most people that you instead viewed it as ‘good’?

42 thoughts on “My Broken Ankle is an Opportunity in Disguise

  1. Akmal Wardak

    Agreed. I am a strong believer on the fact that everything that happens, good or bad, is for the benefit of the person. you never know what would have been the consequences if something “bad” didn’t happen.
    A great business man once missed a flight to a very important business meeting. He lost millions. After a while he founded out that the plane has crashed and nobody have survived. his loss of millions made him the profit of his life.

  2. tom

    You know AJ this is such a great post, because i am more and more convinced that “bad things” happen for very good reason, people are ignorant to look inside of themselves and figure out the connection.

    I got rear ended on new years day going to work, literally entering my work. Prior to that week I have been going around and real debating if I should quite my job or something because I hate it. My brother immediately said its a sign, its a sign. Actually prior to that accident, on the way to work, we got stuck in traffic for one hour, dead lock traffic and when I was leaving the accident scene I noticed i did not have my pass to get to work.

    So in all a “bad event” but it was definitely a sign.
    I am more convinced that no matter how horrendous an event, there is a very good lesson behind it.

    thanks for this post AJ

  3. Article Spinning

    First, I am so sorry about the accident and at the same time I am very thankful you came out of it with just a broken ankle. Like a friend of mine used to say whenever something bad happens to him “it could have been worse”. So, let’s be grateful that it’s not worse than this.

    About your story of the horse and the broken leg … VERY interesting. I first heard it in a movie by Jamie Fox and loved it. It’s a very important lesson for everyone when something goes wrong. Whether that thing really is “wrong” or “right”, “good” or “bad” depends on what the end result of that thing is, like your story.

    Anyway, wishing you quick recovery… and thanks for sharing this. I loved it!

    1. AJ Kumar Post author

      True…it could have been much worse, luckily it happened the way it happened.

      The story is a very TAOIST tale I’ve also heard a while back. It fit in perfect with this recent experience.

    2. steph

      I broke my Ankle very badly in 4 places , I’m 2 weeks past Surgery and was so angry about it, but understand now that God gave me this opportunity to grow closer to him, and to reflect on my life, and for me to grow more spiritually , I’m 34 years old and before this accident , I was all over the place, I was living in sin, and was to busy planning the next party, and lost focus, this was the only way for me to open my eyes and being on my back for the next 8 weeks is def one way of making you think about your life and seeing God, what a huge eye opener, I was so depress for the first 2 weeks, and angry with. The word and god , like why was this happening to me, and God kind of showed me, little flash back of my life, and wow , I’m Shocked in what I saw, well I’m happy I finely get it now, and happy for the Opportunity to have to focus and reflect on most important things and for growing closer to God, this has been a Soul Saver , I wish to help others in distress noW, so they can also learn from there accidents that its actually a blessing in disguise. June 2012

  4. Chris Cade

    Have you ever had an event that happened in your life that was portrayed as ‘bad’ to most people that you instead viewed it as ‘good’?

    More times than I can count! Seriously, it’d probably fill up a book of just that. Most people in my life wonder how I maintain such a peaceful state about me during times of turmoil and upheaval. On more than one occasion, my father has thought I was in denial… yet the more he gets to know me, the more he realizes that I just choose to internalize experiences differently.

    Chris Cade / Twitter

    1. AJ Kumar Post author

      That’s great Chris and how does perceiving these events the way you do affect your life?

      It’s interesting that other people automatically assume that your in ‘denial’ when you view it a different way…

      1. Chris Cade

        The simplest way it affects my life is that I have much lower stress, more peace of mind, improved overall health… and opportunities seem to “fall out of the sky.”

        When I (and most everyone I know) get upset or wrought about something, I get tunnel vision and become narrow-minded. This closes me off to opportunities that may be sitting right in front of me. By internalizing things differently, and seeing the ultimate good in all my experiences, I keep myself open so that tunnel-vision doesn’t occur. If an opportunity arises, I have the opportunity to see it and the energy to pursue it.

        That’s why I mean by opportunities “falling out of the sky.” They’re always there, and by choosing to view life as my teacher I keep the line of sight between myself and the opportunities wide open.

        The big way my father thought I was in denial was in 2001 when my older brother died of cancer. Most of my family was completely wrought, and while I did have sadness in my heart… it was mostly for his two children that would grow up without a father.

        My view was – I was grateful for his influence in my life, both as a role model, as a 2nd father (he was 10 yrs older), as a friend, as a mentor… in many context I was grateful. That feeling doesn’t change whether he’s here or not, and mourning his loss doesn’t actually enable me to live any more of the life he helped enable.

        I’m not saying that grieving is pointless. The heart wants, and it’s important to respect its feelings. However, holding onto the grief… dwelling in it… especially over “what might have been” is moving away from being true to one’s heart and is borderline masochistic. Excessive grief prevents us from learning the lessons, growing, and living even greater than before.

        Your broken ankle is no different than a broken heart from the loss of a loved one, or getting fired from a job, or a relationship breakup. They’re all stuff that happens, and after the initial shock and working through any emotions that come up, it’s up to us to choose how we act from here on out.

        At my brother’s eulogy, I gave a speech in which the basic theme was to smile. I spoke with strength, conviction, compassion, composure… and with tears in my eyes. There was no denial, but rather, gratitude and acceptance for what was and what is.

        Now as I continue to get older, my father no longer believes I live in denial. He’s seen me go through enough of these upheaval / traumatic situations that he knows it’s not denial. He doesn’t understand how I handle these situations the way I do, and he readily acknowledges he couldn’t do it himself, but he now sees that it’s not denial either. It’s just me.

        Chris Cade / Twitter

        1. Article Spinning

          Wow, Chris, this was not only touching but VERY helpful (you have no idea how helpful), especially when you said “I’m not saying that grieving is pointless. The heart wants, and it’s important to respect its feelings. However, holding onto the grief… dwelling in it… especially over “what might have been” is moving away from being true to one’s heart and is borderline masochistic. Excessive grief prevents us from learning the lessons, growing, and living even greater than before.” Very deep, I tell you, very deep and helpful.

  5. Michele Babcock-Nice

    AJ, I am sorry to know of your injury, and I am thankful that you and your brother suffered nothing greater; you have your lives.
    Fifteen years ago, I experienced a similar collision in which another driver turned left and stopped in my lane at the last moment as I was approaching in my vehicle from the other direction. Both of our vehicles were totalled, however we walked away with our lives. That experience showed me the value of my life, that it could be taken away in a moment, and it showed me that I must make the best of my life. It humbled me and made me more appreciative of my life as a blessing and gift from God.
    I also agree that events and circumstances that occur may be viewed as fortunate or unfortunate; it all depends upon one’s perception of them.
    Thank you for sharing your article about your experience, and may God be with you in your recovery. Michele 🙂

  6. Dave

    Great post AJ. A similar situation happened to me recently in which my car flipped a few times on the highway and I somehow walked away with a few scrapes. It was a wakeup call in lots of ways and has alreadh had a profoundly positive impact on the way I now live my life.

    1. Article Spinning

      That’s true about the reading part. We have so much to do daily that we barely have enough time to read. But if something happens that forces us to sit at home all day, then we would do a lot of reading. And who knows – in the process of reading, that million dollar idea could just pop up that wouldn’t have come if you weren’t forced to sit and read, 🙂

  7. Harnish

    AJ, wish you great recovery and hopefully I will be able to read 2-3 posts everyday instead of one and comment on them! I agree that looking at every grain of sand as an opportunity to find gold can indeed help. I have a personal story… In Oct 2002 I got laid off by my company in Atlanta along with 800 other people all across North America. The economy was terrible and people were all in doom and gloom. However I never lost hope and I tried reaching out to other people within my company in other groups to find out if they had open positions. Long story short I was rehired and moved by my company to Austin TX within 15 days. Life is how you seize the moment.

  8. HOBO(nickname)

    I belive in destiny. God is the best decision-maker no matter I see it as good or bad.
    Life is a cycle. Why we take 9 months to born because there is a cycle and we have to pass through it. Likewise whatever happened/happening/will happen is because of a cycle decided by God.
    Why we die if everything is in our control.
    Destiny – The word.
    Goodluck & Get well soon…

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  10. Tess The Bold Life

    One of my duaghters was born without a right hand. I think friends and family felt sorry for us. She is 32 now and competes in triathlons. She is an inspiration to all.

    While she was growing up we refused to do for her what she could do for herself. Our family has been blessed and the words “I can’t” aren’t spoken anywhere near us!

    Heal happy and quickly!

    1. AJ Kumar Post author

      Wow, that’s amazing. It’s great that you were able to share that quality with your daughter. A very powerful word to remove from your personal diction that can lead to outstanding accomplishments.

  11. Janae Bustos

    “Your life will be a time line of events. It is your choice to whither they be ‘good’ or ‘bad’.”

    This is a great post! I steer away from believing in “good luck” or “bad luck.” Maybe there is such thing as fate, and perhaps things do happen for a reason. I might never know. I do know, however, that the events that do take place can be categorized as bad or good depending on how you act upon them. When it comes down to it, everything is a choice. In the end, it’s you who chooses how to react to a situation. Your life and what you make of it is reliant on your choices.

  12. Mustafa

    A very TRUTHFULLY nice topic. With lots of inspiring words of wisdom … I’m sharing a very similar story, that I love, in my Blog in a couple of day..

    Good Luck, and heal fast..

  13. Silvia

    I like Chinese Taoist Stories very much.That one is one of my favourite stories.I see the life process in it and two meanigs of the same event.I get everything that has happened to me with gratitude,seeing God’s blessing in it and believing that is the best result for me for the present moment.

  14. Daniele

    … two weeks ago I had an injury, a broken foot. And your photo could represent even my situation.
    Well… not even the situation is the same, but my thoughts as well… I have at least 4 weeks to work on myself: great time to improve my life!
    I am sorrounded of people telling me “poor you”, but believe me, as you, I think it’s a unique opportunity in my life.
    While stumbleuponing I’ve found your blog… very good to me to read a thought so close to mine.

    BTW your blog is very interesting.
    Greetings from Italy.

    1. AJ Kumar Post author

      Wow thats awesome that we both share similar ideas. Luckily my cast came off about 3-4 weeks ago. I am still unable to run, but at least crutches are gone! It’s great that, like me, you are deciding to spend your time wisely studying, learning, and growing 🙂


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