There is an old parable about a boy who was so discouraged with failing in school he told his grandfather he wanted to quit. His grandfather filled three pots with water and placed each on the high fire. Soon the pots came to a boil. In the first he placed carrots, in the second he placed eggs, and the last he placed ground coffee. He let them sit and boil, without saying a word. In about twenty minutes, he turned off the burners. He fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. He pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then he ladled the coffee out into a bow. Turning to the boy, he asked, “Tell me, what do you see?” “Carrots, eggs and coffee, the boy replied. Then he asked the boy to feel the carrots, which he did and noted they were soft and mushy. His grandfather asked him to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, the boy observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, he asked the boy to sip the coffee. He smiled as he tasted the coffee with its rich aroma. The boy asked, “I don’t understand. What does this mean, if anything?”
His grandfather laughed and explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity – boiling water – but each reacted differently. “Which are you?” the grandfather asked, “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity, become soft and loses strength? Are you the egg that appears not to change but whose heart is hardened? Or, are you the coffee bean that changes the hot water, the very circumstances that bring the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases its fragrance and flavor. If you are like the coffee bean, when things are at their worst, your very attitude will change your environment for the better, making it sweet and palatable.” So which are you, the carrot, egg or coffee?
It is certain that as imperfect human beings we will not hit a home run each time we are faced with unexpected challenge and change, and handle it with great calm, HOWEVER, we can strive to develop spiritual weapons and emotional intelligence skills which will help improve our ability to be like coffee when we face adverse circumstances. It is possible that we can develop habits that enable us to maintain a state of calm in the midst of our storms in life. True peace of mind and the ability to overcome adversity is not dependent on circumstances. It comes from the inside. And it starts with the story that we tell ourselves about our ability to persevere and overcome the challenges we face.
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