There is Nothing Good or Bad, But Thinking Makes it So

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Those words are from the brilliant mind who wrote: “As You Like It”, “Cymbeline”, and “The Comedy of Errors.” Ring a bell? Okay okay. He wrote “Hamlet” and “Macbeth”, got it now?

William Shakespeare penned those words in Hamlet Act II Scene II in 1599. More than 400 years later, they still hold a truth few people on Earth have even begin to understand. Hamlet is talking to Guildenstern and Rosencrantz, as they have been sent to Denmark.

“What crimes have you committed that you have been sent here to prison?”, says Hamlet.

“Prison, my Lord?”, asks Guildenstern.

“Denmark’s a prison.”, replies Hamlet.

“Well then I guess the whole world is one.”, says Rosencrantz.

“Yes. Quite a large one with many cells and dungeons, Denmark being the worst of all.”

“We don’t think so, my Lord.”

“Why, then, ’tis none to you, for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so…”  replies Hamlet.

. . . . . . .

The power one’s mind has over the world around them is incredible. Remember the last time your mom texted you and said, “Call me.” I do, because I remember every time I started freaking out.

“What did I forget to do?”

“Why is she mad?”

“Did she find out something I did?”

My mind starts flooding with memories of every white lie I’ve ever told. She didn’t say she was mad. She didn’t even leave an angry voicemail. But still, two little words made my mind go into a deep panic and raise my blood pressure. Until, I could finally work up the nerve to dial her number and hit that small green button with the phone.

More times than not, I was never in trouble. I got into a habit of thinking ‘every time mom asks me to call her (or anyone with authority) it is bad’. Yet until I made that decision, it was neither good nor bad. It just was.

I’m not the only one to struggle with this tension. Think about the last time you had to stay late at the office. You had one of two reactions.

  1. “Dangit. I was supposed to do x, y, and z tonight and now I can’t.” Or,
  2. “Oh well. Long night tonight means I come prepared tomorrow.”

Working late isn’t bad. Working late isn’t good. What you think about working late makes it so.

The next time you’re in a situation where something objective comes up (i.e. my boss told me to call him asap) don’t freak out. Call him when you can and go from there. If you’re fired, you’re fired. If he wants to grab lunch, he wants to grab lunch. Don’t make subjective judgments based on objective situations.

. . . . . . .

That’s a lot easier said than done. I still struggle with this, especially when my mom tells me to call her. I can only work on framing the situation as best I can and controlling my thoughts over a certain situation.


This article was inspired by the thoughts and mentorship of Cj Alvarado. Someone who took a chance on me when I asked for it. He spits valuable nuggets any chance he can. Very thankful for you Cj.

Written by
Dalton Mabery