What’s Wrong with Murphy’s Law

In 1949, Captain Murphy gave us his “law:”

If anything can go wrong, it will go wrong

Since then, a number of variants and other “laws” have emerged:

A dropped piece of bread will always land butter side down.

The line next to you will move more quickly than the one you’re in.

If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

Success always occurs in private, and failure in full public view.

All things being equal, you lose.

As soon as you mention something…if it’s good, it stops; if it’s bad, it happens.

Anything is possible if you don’t know what you’re talking about.

A shortcut is the longest distance between two points.

There’s no time like the present to procrastinate.

What’s wrong with Murphy’s Law, and these other variants? On the surface, nothing. They each have kernels of truth and wisdom.

But, they ignore other possibilities:

Everything that can work, will work. Consider how many things worked as they were supposed to today. You probably don’t remember them, since they worked so well.

How often do you really drop a piece of bread?

Sure, your line may move slower today. That won’t be the case every time. If we consider our neighbor’s perspective, they’re enjoying the fact that their line is moving faster today than your line. Isn’t it nice to see someone have a small victory?

We all have more than a hammer. Remembering to look in our toolbox from time to time and dust off our other tools is the key to success.

Our successes and failures are always personal first.  The people who are willing to share in both are what matters.  The size of the audience doesn’t.

All things are rarely equal.  The level of equality at the start has little to do with whether you win or lose.

We get the things we visualize the most.  We have more control over what happens than we realize.

Some of the best discoveries came from people asking the dumb question, or looking at something with “untrained” eyes. The most potent resource in a company is the new employee who “doesn’t know anything.”

Unexplored shortcuts take you nowhere. Some shortcuts lead to entirely new destinations that you never thought possible.

Now is the perfect time to begin, or begin again.

The only thing we control in life is our attitude. Our attitude has more impact on our lives than any of these “laws.”

If It Makes You Happy

There’s a question in life that each of us gets to answer:



“If it makes you happy, then why the hell are you so sad?”  –Sheryl Crow

I was hiking this week and came across a California Conservation Corps crew. They were clearing brush near the trail. There were probably ten in the crew. I don’t know if they were volunteers, paid workers, or possibly working off community service hours. One thing was certain. None of them were enjoying the work.

I saw a lot of slouchy, half-hearted shoveling. They each looked exhausted. The brush wasn’t fighting back, but it was on the verge of beating this crew. None of the crew members embraced the joy that can come from working outside as the sun rises. I doubt if any were proud of the job they were doing, or the difference they were making.

They weren’t happy because they didn’t want to be happy.

Are you happiest at home? At work? Running trails? Sewing a quilt? Playing Call of Duty? Cooking dinner? Reviewing your finances? Gazing upon the ocean from the balcony of your stateroom? Sitting in quiet meditation? Mowing the lawn? Sipping a Mai Tai? Pulling weeds? Playing hide-and-seek with your kids? Cleaning your toilets? Watching your kids’ soccer games? Doing the dishes? Surfing? Playing guitar?

If you put this list in descending order from happiest to saddest, which activity is your happiest? Saddest?

I submit that each activity (and hundreds more) can be happy or sad, rewarding or frustrating, peaceful or angry, creative or boring. The activity and its location aren’t nearly as important as the one real determining factor:

The attitude we choose to bring.

There’s a question in life that each of us gets to answer:

What makes me happy?

The answer? The third word of the question.

Until you work on yourself, there isn’t much anyone or anything can do to make you happy.

“Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.”  –Abraham Lincoln


In honor of this, my 100th blog post, I thought I’d post a picture of two readers I have in my mind as I write each post.  It’s amazing to me that this photo is nearly twenty years old!  My how time flies.


About Rocks…

Riding motorcycles can be dangerous.   Especially when riding through a rocky section of trail.

When I rode motorcycles (a long time ago), I was always amazed at the way certain riders were able to go through rocky sections so quickly, while others struggled just to survive.

Ask anyone who can fly through rocky sections how they do it, and you will usually get this answer:  Focus on where you want to go, and don’t look at the rocks.

An amazing thing happens if you focus on the rocks.  You inevitably run into them.

The same thing happens with potholes.  The surest way to hit a pothole is to focus on it.

We all have rocks (or potholes) in our path.  They will always be there.  The best way to avoid them is to resist the temptation to look.

Perception is Reality

The scene:  A late afternoon hike as the sun begins to set.

View 1–through the eyes of someone mourning the loss of a loved one

Lengthening shadows descend upon the forest floor.  The never ending dance of day and night continues without interruption.  Glorious palettes of color and texture give way to an infinite collection of shadows and silhouettes.  Plaintive moans emanate from the forest as trees sway against the wind’s relentless onslaught.  Each is alone in the crowded forest to persevere as they must.

The air is thick with the smell of decay.  Death wins another battle in its perpetual war with the living.  The breeze carries hints of a familiar perfume from years past.  A reminder of a life of joy, a life of sorrow, a life of love.  In the darkness, there is only one sound.  The beats of a broken heart.  A companion to the mournful wail of a distant coyote, howling at a moon not yet risen.  He cries for an answer that will never come.  A far off dream in a long cold night has just begun.

View 2–through the eyes of someone who has just met the love of his life

Afternoon sun caresses the forest floor through pin holes in a daylight curtain.  Daffodils and honeysuckles dance in its warming light.  The fresh smell of pine fills the spirit.  The trail ahead is clear, as the forest welcomes its newest guest.

The air is filled with the sounds of bird song.  A cool breeze rustles through the trees.  It carries a salty hint of a distant shoreline and a barefoot walk, holding hands.  The horizon is a view into infinite possibilities.

Which description is accurate?  Both, depending on the perspective of the traveler.

Reality is shaped by the perspective and attitudes of those experiencing it.  Taken another way, perception is reality…

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