Let me tell you a story – the author is unknown, but the message is outstanding.
A young girl was struggling with her life. She was dealing with stress and problems and drama and…well, all the things young girls struggle with.
And frankly, she wanted to give up.
So, like many young girls tend (and should) do, she went to a mentor for advice. This young girl’s mentor was her mother.
“Mom, I’m done,” the young girl complained, “I can’t do this anymore.”
The mother smiled at her daughter and quickly turned to the kitchen cabinet. She pulled out three pots, filled them with water, and set them to boil on the stovetop.
Next, her mother grabbed a carrot and an egg from the fridge, and pulled a cup of coffee grounds from the pantry.
Of course, her daughter was confused. And angry. All she wanted was advice, not a weird snack.
But her mother diligently continued her work.
She placed the carrot in one pot, the egg in another, and the coffee in the third.
Then she sat across from her daughter, grabbed her hands, and waited.
After what seemed like an eternity to the daughter, her mother got up and turned off the stove. She brought the three pots over to the table and set them down.
She asked her daughter to feel the carrot.
“It’s soft,” the daughter replied.
Then she asked her daughter to peel the egg.
“It’s hard,” the daughter replied.
Then her mother asked her to sip the coffee.
“It tastes delicious,” the daughter smiled, “but what does it mean, Mom?”
Her mother explained that the carrot, egg, and coffee represent three different kinds of people and how they respond to adversity.
The carrot started out strong but when faced with the heat and adversity of the water, it grew soft and fearful. The egg, although it had a hard shell to protect its soft heart, became hardened and angry, complaining and bitter.
But the coffee?
When faced with the heat of adversity, the coffee CHANGED THE WATER. It CHANGED the circumstances facing it.
The mother then turned to her daughter.
“What are you? The carrot, egg, or coffee?”
You have the ability to choose.
I am about 5 days into my 30-day no complaining challenge. I consider myself a pretty positive person – generally optimistic and upbeat.
I just didn’t realize HOW MUCH we complain.
“It’s too cold.”
“It’s too hot.”
“The store is out of __________.”
“My life is too hard.”
“I can’t stand my job.”
“That woman makes me CRAZY!”
We do lots of complaining. And let me just define it for you – complaining constitutes running our mouths about things we can’t (or won’t) do anything to change.
The other day I asked my students a question.
“When do you NOT complain?”
(I know, THAT question pricks me right where it hurts).
The students answered in many ways, but what I heard the most is,
“When I get my way.”
Isn’t that the truth? We are most happy and un-complaining when we get our way. But here’s the rub:
Life isn’t fair.
Which means, most of the time we won’t get our way.
So, doesn’t it make more sense to CHOOSE to be the coffee and change our circumstances rather than become fearful or angry or COMPLAIN?
One of my sweet students, Lauren, drew me a beautiful picture after I told the class the story of the carrot, egg, and coffee. She said the story inspired her to CHANGE things and BECOME THE COFFEE rather than get bitter or afraid. The girl in the drawing is at peace, soaking in her surroundings, changing them with her CHOOSE JOY demeanor.
I love it.
Which brings me to my final question:
Which are you? The carrot, the egg, or the coffee?
It’s your choice.
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