We all love stories, not only those that make us dream but also those to reflect that touch our most sensitive points. It is no coincidence that for centuries the spiritual leaders of the tribes have resorted to short stories with morals to make the rest of the tribe think.
Milton Erickson, an American psychologist and hypnotherapist, understood the enormous power of psychological short stories and began to apply them in hypnosis and psychotherapy. Erickson realized that these stories reach our subconscious, bypassing the barriers of the conscious mind, in such a way that they can cause more radical positive change than best speech, however logical or thoughtful.
The power of wise stories is that they do not try to convince us, so we do not assume a priori defensive attitude but we show ourselves more receptive, we listen to their message and reflect on it.
Therefore, reading short stories that make you think is also a way to prepare ourselves for life and emotional growth, because sometimes they allow us to immediately understand, through insight, where we are wrong and what we should do to develop inner peace.
- The weight of a glass of water
A psychologist was developing a group session when, suddenly, he raised a glass of water. Everyone expected the classic question: "Is it half full or half empty?"
Instead, he asked:
- How much does this glass weigh?
Responses ranged from 200 to 250 grams. The psychologist replied:
- Absolute weight is not important. It depends on how long I hold it in my hand. If I hold it for a minute, it won't be a problem, but if I hold it for an hour, my arm will start to hurt. If I keep it one day, my arm will first go numb and then paralyze. The weight of the glass does not change, it is always the same. But the more I hold it in my hand, the heavier and harder it becomes to bear.
moral: this short story reminds us that worries, negative thoughts, resentment and resentment are like that glass of water. If we think about it a little, nothing happens. If we think about it all day, they start to make us feel bad. And if we think about it all week, we will end up feeling paralyzed and unable to do anything. Therefore, we must learn to let go of everything that can harm us.
- The rock on the road
In a distant kingdom, a king once placed a large rock in the middle of the main road leading to his kingdom, thus blocking the way. Then he hid to see what his subjects were doing when they passed that road.
He didn't have to wait long. Soon some of the kingdom's wealthiest merchants and courtiers passed by, simply staring at the rock. Many stood for some time in front of the rock complaining and blaming the king for not keeping the streets clean, but no one did anything to remove the obstacle.
After a while a farmer arrived with a load of vegetables. He stood for a moment looking at the rock and then placed his burden on the ground at the edge of the road. He tried to move the rock with only his hands but couldn't, so he used a log for leverage. After a great deal of effort, he finally managed to move the rock.
As he bent down to pick up his load, he found a bag, right where the rock used to be. The bag contained a good amount of gold coins and a note from the king, indicating that it was the reward for those who cleared the way.
moral: this psychological story reminds us that overcome obstacles represent an opportunity to grow as people and improve our condition. Many times problems are opportunities for change, to reflect on our ways of doing things or invitations to pay attention. The end result will depend on how we approach them.
- The collector of insults
Near Tokyo lived an old samurai who dedicated himself to teaching Buddhism to young people. Although he was already in old age, according to legend he was still able to defeat any opponent.
One day, a warrior known for his unscrupulousness passed by the old samurai's house. He was famous for provoking his opponents, and when they lost their patience and made a mistake, he counterattacked. The young warrior had never lost a battle.
He knew the reputation of the old samurai, so he wanted to defeat him to further increase his fame. The disciples of the master objected but the old man accepted the challenge.
They all went to the square, where the young warrior began to provoke the old samurai:
She insulted him and spat in his face. For several hours he did everything he could to make the old samurai lose his temper, but he remained impassive. At the end of the afternoon, exhausted and humiliated, the young warrior withdrew.
Disappointed that his teacher accepted so many insults and taunts without reacting, his disciples asked him:
- How could you endure so much unworthiness? Why didn't you use your sword, even though you might have lost instead of showing yourself as a coward in front of all of us?
The old man replied:
- If someone comes to you with a gift and you don't accept it, who does the gift belong to?
"Who tried to hand it over, of course," replied one of the disciples.
- The same goes for envy, anger and insults - explained the master - When you don't accept them they continue to belong to whoever took them with them.
moral: this essay teaches us that we must measure our reactions because when we get angry with others, what we are actually doing is giving them control of the situation. Many people act like garbage trucks, willing to dump their frustrations and anger where they are allowed to.
- The jar of life
A teacher wanted to encourage his students to reflect on life. He took a jar from under the table and placed it on it. Then he took out a dozen golf balls and began putting them one by one into the jar.
When the jar was filled to the brim he asked his students:
- Is this jar full?
Everyone repeated a resounding yes.
Then asked them:
- Are you sure?
And he pulled out a small bucket full of small stones from under the table. He tossed them into the jar and moved them, so that the stones fit into the gaps between the golf balls.
When he finished, he asked again if the jar was full.
This time the audience already imagined the answer and one of the participants said aloud: "Probably not."
Very well, said the professor. He pulled a sack full of sand from under the table and began throwing it into the jar. The sand settled in the spaces between the balls and the stones.
Once again he asked the boys: Is the jar full?
This time, the students thought it was full, it was impossible to put anything else in it!
- What do you think is the teaching of this little demonstration?
One of the students raised his hand and said:
- The teaching is that no matter how full your agenda is, if you try, you can always include more things.
- No! - replied the teacher - the teaching is that if you don't put the bigger balls and stones first, you won't be able to put them later.
moral: In life, like in the jar, we have to worry about those really important things or people, which represent golf balls. If we waste our time on trivialities or projects that don't satisfy us or are meaningful, in the end we run the risk of no longer having space for the truly important things.
- The problem
A great Zen master was in charge of teaching the young disciples who came to the monastery. One day the monastery keeper died and had to be replaced.
The teacher gathered all his disciples to choose the person who would have that honor.
- I will present you a problem - he said - The one who solves it first, will be the new guardian of the monastery.
He moved a piece of furniture to the center of the room and placed a huge and beautiful porcelain vase on it in which there was a beautiful red rose.
- That is the question.
The disciples seemed baffled by what they saw: the sophisticated and rare designs of the porcelain, the freshness and elegance of the flower… What did they represent? What to do? What was the riddle? Everyone was paralyzed.
After a few minutes, a student stood up, looked at the teacher and the other disciples, walked towards the vase with determination, removed it from the top of the cabinet and placed it on the floor.
- You are the new guardian - the master told him, and explained - I was very clear, I told you that you were facing a problem. No matter how fascinating or rare, problems need to be solved.
moral: this short story warns us of the dangers of getting stuck in contemplating the problem, which often happens in everyday life, when we continue to mull over the situation to be solved, postponing the solution, often out of fear. Instead, we should just learn to deal with it. We must remember that many times the weight of unsolved problems is greater than the consequences of the same.