Pigs and Chickens (Part One)

Once upon a time a poor villager lived in a small and crowded hut along with his wife, his children and a large number of relatives. His days were filled with toil and drudgery and at night he lay awake on his hard mat feeling very unhappy.

Finally the poor fellow sought the guidance of the wisest man in the village, who considered the  villager's plight for several minutes and then solemnly told him that he must herd all of his pigs and chickens into his hut, and then return after the next moon.

The unhappy villager did not understand but he reluctantly trudged back to his hut and herded all his pigs and chickens into his hut. As you can imagine, the smell and noise and chaos grew much worse and the man was more unhappy than ever.

Finally, at the appointed time he trudged back to the wise man and cried out that his life was worse than ever: never before had he experienced such misery. The wise man told the villager to return back to his hut and kick out the animals and then return after the next moon. The villager immediately and happily did this. His hut immediately seemed infinitely larger and more peaceful, and at night he slept like a king.

When the happy villager next returned to the wise man he wore a smile on his well-rested face, had a bounce in his strong step, and spilled laughter from his smiling lips. He kissed the wise man's feet and joyously exclaimed "My life has never been so good: No more pigs! No more chickens!"

Such is the value of perspective. An identical situation can be seen as either a source of great resentment or gratitude depending on what it is compared against. It's easy to take good health for granted until one has been sick. The tendency to be impatient in a slow supermarket line disappears at the awareness that many people in the world wait hours for a single bowl of rice.

Gratitude comes in all shapes and sizes, but it's never far away when you remember the many small blessings of life rather than taking them for granted.


Bill Herring is a psychotherapist and counselor for adults in Atlanta, and a specialist in sex addiction, including excessive pornography use.

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