Teaching stories have been used since ancient times to illustrate a point, teach an important lesson, or make the listener think. Eight Shifts for Wellness includes teaching stories intended to provoke thought on the life lessons they illustrate. Below are a few teaching stories.
Think about situations in your life that may be relevant to what the story is about. What is the gift you have the opportunity to receive from it? How can the teachings be applied in future situations you may encounter? How can you use the knowledge and insight you get from the story to have a positive impact on your well-being and the well-being of others?
Good Luck? Bad Luck?
In ancient times a farmer lived in China with his son. They had an old horse they used to till their fields. One day the horse got loose and escaped into the hills. Each of the villagers came to the farmer to express their sorrow for his misfortune. They said, “What bad luck for you that your horse ran away.” The farmer responded, “Bad luck? Good luck? Who knows?”
A few days later the horse returned and was followed by eight wild horses. The villagers came to express their glee and said, “How lucky you are.” The farmer responded, “Good luck? Bad luck? Who knows?”
A week later his son was riding one of the wild horses and was thrown to the ground and broke his leg. Once again the villagers came to express their condolences and said, “How unlucky you are that your son broke his leg.” The farmer replied, “Bad luck? Good luck? Who knows?”
A few days later the emperor’s soldiers came to the village to order all the young men to join the army for an upcoming war. The farmer’s son was not taken because he had a broken leg. The villagers came rushing to the farmer to congratulate him that his son was not taken into the army and they told him, “How lucky you are to have such good fortune.” The farmer replied, “Good luck? Bad luck? Who knows?”
An old Cherokee was telling his granddaughter about a fight that is going on inside each of us. He said it is between two wolves. One is evil: It is anger, envy, jealousy, greed, and arrogance. The other is good: It is peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, and compassion. The granddaughter thought about it for a minute and then asked her grandfather, “Which wolf wins?” The grandfather simply replied, “The one you feed.”
Strolling along the edge of the sea, a man catches sight of a young woman who appears to be engaged in a ritual dance. She stoops down, then straightens to her full height, casting her arm out in an arc. Drawing closer he sees that the beach around her is littered with starfish, and she is throwing them one by one into the sea. He lightly mocks her: “There are stranded starfish as far as the eye can see, for miles up the beach. What difference can saving a few of them possibly make?” Smiling, she bends down and once more tosses a starfish out over the water, saying serenely, “It certainly makes a difference to this one.”