Learning About Contentment
A Russian women lived with her husband and two children in a very small hut. Then her husband’s parents lost their home and she had to take them into hers.
The coughing of the old folks and the crowding were unbearable. In desperation, she went to the village wise man, whom she knew had solved many, many problems. “What should I do?” she begged.
“Do you have a cow?” asked the wise man.
“Yes,” she replied.
“Then bring her into the hut, too. And come back and see me in a week,” said the wise man.
A week later she was back. “This is utterly unbearable,” she said.
“Do you have any chickens?” asked the wise man.
“Yes,” she replied. “What about them?”
“Bring them in the hut, too,” he said. “Then come back and see me in another week.”
“You’re utterly out of your mind,” she said. Nevertheless, still awed by his reputation, she did as he said. A week later she returned. “This is absolutely impossible,” she said. “Our home is a mess.”
“All right,” said the wise man, “take out the chickens.”
The next week she reported that without the chickens it was definitely better but still a miserable situation. “All right,” said the wise man, “now take out the cow. That will settle your problem.”
And it did. Without the chickens and cow to content with, the woman, her husband, the children and his two parents got along quite peacefully. Everything, you see, is relative. Sometimes we don’t know how well off we really are.
from the Broadway Bulletin, Lubbock, Texas