Murphy's Law holds always: “if anything can go wrong, it will”. Internalizing this principle is the key to happiness and success; telling yourself everything will be alright is a mind-numbing escape from reality. If you expect the worst, you can prepare for it. Even if Murphy's Law is a mere matter of chance, of cognitive bias, “Law of Fives”, it is dangerous to underestimate the probability that things will go wrong. If you focus on the probability that things may turn out okay, you will be left vulnerable to disaster.Yeah, Murphy's Law is BS. However if we look at a situation's set of possible outcomes and only deem certain outcomes satisfactory, failure may be the more likely result.
Internalizing Murphy's Law does not imply helplessness or despair – quite the contrary. “If anything can go wrong, it will”... Reverse the Law and you see hope: “sufficient preparation averts disaster” – only that which can go wrong, will go wrong. Allow no plan the possibility to go wrong, and you'll be much better off than you would just hoping and praying. Murphy's Law does not leave you helpless – it is ignoring this Law that will. If things go wrong when you refuse to expect it, you have nobody to blame but your own dumb self – this is the epitome of helplessness.While I agree preparation is important, too much prep will prevent you from ever getting started in an endeavor.
The events in my life this past fall really drove the point home for me. I had accumulated several months' debt in wishful thinking, and suddenly found collectors at my door. Again, and again, and again. I had told myself all kinds of things would work out just fine. One by one, they fell apart and failed to work out, in a glorious variety of different ways I had not entirely foreseen. I was left dazed and confused. Certainly, some things worked out just as I had hoped. I've had pleasant surprises. Some things worked out far better than I had dreaded. But always there were unknowns in play – I never really knew which thing could still go wrong. In almost every case, being more cautious and proactive, accepting the possibility of failure and preparing for it, could have saved me nasty surprises, stressful days and sleepless nights.Or, you know, you could accept getting caught with your pants down as a part of life.
Instead, to appease my lazy side, I just told myself things would work out without my intervention. They did not.
But there is a lesson to be learned in such times. One must live with Murphy's law in mind always. One must prepare for the worst but hope for the best. Stop letting yourself get caught with your pance down, expect the worst, prepare for it – and everything will be alright.