How to Maintain a Healthy Perspective on Who You Are and What You Have
If social and other media leave you feeling inadequate, this ancient Chinese story may help put things in perspective for you. Clearly it is just a modern version of an age-old problem!
The Story of the Stonecutter
There was once a stonecutter who was dissatisfied with himself and his position in life.
One day, he passed a wealthy merchant’s house, and through the open gateway, saw many fine possessions and important visitors. “How powerful that merchant must be!” thought the stonecutter. He became very envious and wished he could be like the merchant. Then he would no longer need to live the life of a stonecutter.
To his great surprise, he suddenly became the merchant, enjoying more luxuries and power than he had ever dreamed of, envied and detested by those less wealthy than him. But soon, a high official passed by, carried in a sedan chair, accompanied by attendants, and escorted by soldiers beating gongs. Everyone, no matter how wealthy, had to bow down before the procession. “How powerful that official is!” he thought. “I wish I could be that official!”
Then he became the official, carried everywhere in an embroidered sedan chair, feared and hated by the people all around, who had to bow down before him as he passed. It was a hot summer day, and the official felt very uncomfortable in the sticky sedan chair. He looked up at the sun. It shone proudly in the sky, unaffected by his presence. “How powerful the sun is!” he thought. “I wish I could be the sun!”
Then he became the sun, shining fiercely down on everyone, scorching the fields, cursed by the farmers and labourers. But a huge black cloud moved between him and the earth so that his light could no longer shine on everything below. “How powerful that storm cloud is!” he thought. “I wish I could be a cloud!”
Then he became the cloud, flooding the fields and villages, shouted at by everyone. But soon he found he was being pushed away by some great force, and realised that it was the wind. “How powerful it is!” he thought. “I wish I could be the wind!”
Then he became the wind, blowing tiles off the roofs of houses, uprooting trees, hated and feared by all below him. But after a while, he came up against something that would not move, no matter how forcefully he blew against it – a huge, towering stone. “How powerful that stone is!” he thought. “I wish I could be a stone!”
Then he became the stone, more powerful than anything else on earth. But as he stood there, he heard the sound of a hammer pounding a chisel into the solid rock and felt himself being changed. “What could be more powerful than I the stone?” he thought. He looked down and saw far below him the figure of a stonecutter.
I felt so much more relaxed and content after a couple of days outside and offline recently, so I can highly recommend taking time out from media of all sorts for a day or two when you can to help you keep a healthy perspective on who you are and what you have. Recognise, respect and use the strengths that you have; you have everything that you need.