Monthly Letters to Pulmonary Patients by Thomas L. Petty

Thomas L. Petty, M.D.

Professor of Medicine, 
University of Colorado

Chairman, National Lung Health Education Program (NLHEP)


National Lung Health Education Program
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HealthOne Center
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Denver, CO 80218
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Fax: 303 832 8137

Murphy was an Optimist

March 1998
PEP Pioneers
Second Wind
Torrance, California

     Dear Friends:

Since we celebrate St. Patrick's day this month, and because of the kind of day I had yesterday, I thought I would devote this message to Murphy, mythical philosopher to whom many humorous quotations are attributed. These are known as Murphy's Laws. Some of my favorite Murphy's Laws are the following:
  • Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.
  • When something goes wrong, it will go wrong at the worst possible time.
  • Anything that can be misunderstood, has been misunderstood.
  • Nature always sides with the hidden flaw.
  • Attempting to correct a situation that is going bad, will produce worse results than letting nature take its course.
  • Optimism indicates that the situation has not been clearly understood.
  • The probability of something happening is in inverse proportion to its desirability.
  • If everything seems to be going well, you have overlooked something.
  • If it is possible for more than one thing to go wrong, the thing that will go wrong is the one that will do the most damage.
  • Left to themselves, things always go from bad to worse.
  • Nothing is lost until you begin to look for it.
  • The chances of a piece of bread landing buttered-side down increases in direct proportion to the value of the carpeting.
  • You can't tell how deep a mud puddle is, until you step in it.

     Well, let me tell you what happened yesterday. My computer went down and couldn't be fixed. My fax machine broke. And an important slide set I needed returned, got lost in the Canadian mail. Things seem to always run in threes. But, in spite of all, I remain an optimist. I think from now on I will follow my hero, famed pitcher Satchel Paige's aphorism, "Don't look back. Something might be gaining on you."

     Have a Happy St. Patrick's Day. Ill be in touch next month

     Your friend,

    Thomas Petty, MD

Last update:
14 March 2002