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Blessing or a Curse?

The Chinese certainly have a sense of humor and are very good at hidden meanings.  I recently came across the 3 Chinese Blessings that are actually meant to be curses.  After reading them I realized that like most things, there is wisdom behind these sayings, and in some respects, it’s all about your perspective! The “blessings” are:

  • May you live in interesting times.
  • May you be recognized by powerful people.
  • May you get what you wish for.

To be fair, although the Chinese are credited with these, there isn’t any proof that these “blessings” originated in China and in fact, it’s likely that many other countries have similar versions. On the surface, these seem to be positive. Who wouldn’t want to live in an interesting time, be recognized by powerful people, and get what they wished for?  But let’s think about these for a minute, because as with most things, the devil is in the details and semantics matter.

I think we can all agree, we have and currently do live in interesting times. Unfortunately, most of what has and continues to happen is not positive. After going through the last few years, wouldn’t we all rather live in uninteresting times? Same goes for recognition by powerful people; recognition is not always positive and powerful people are not always nice. We’ve seen this time and again; I prefer to fly under the radar. I would like to focus on the last one—how can getting what you wish for be a curse? If we get what we want, why is that bad?

The lottery is a great example. Every time the stakes are high (as they are now), most of us buy tickets and dream of what we would do with our newfound riches if we won. Who can blame us? Everyone wants to win the lottery. But consider the “where are they now” stories that run from time to time, checking in on the winners of landmark jackpots.  With wealth comes headaches. People find themselves with new friends, new relatives, new demands and in a position they do not know how to handle. As a result, most find their lives are ruined rather than improved.

But that is an easy example. What about the entrepreneur who wishes to build a successful business, selling it one day, only to realize that life passed him by while he worked to build that business. As a result, he has nothing of true value. Think about the college athlete that wants to go pro, does, and gets hurt or does not know how to handle his success. Same for young actors or musicians. And then there is the person that starts a blog with very good intentions, keeps it going but struggles to for ideas. 😊

I think the curse here is that we aren’t always smart enough to know what we truly wish for, what we really need, or what is actually good for us. The outcome of our wishes isn’t in our control, but we have to put careful thought to what it is that we truly value and need (which is different than what we may wish for). 😊

So, one can see how the blessing is really a curse. How will you view it?

“Riches get their value from the mind of the possessor; they are blessings to those who know how to use them, and curses to those who do not.” – Terence

Have a good weekend.