What Are You: Carrot, Egg or Coffee Bean?
Andreea Macoveiciuc | On 24, Jan 2014
“When we feel overwhelmed with disappointment it often reveals something that has become too important.”
As human beings, we face challenges on a daily basis, and interact with people who have different personalities, habits and feelings. How we choose to manage the tough situations in our lives influences the outcome.
It’s easy to feel uncomfortable, angry, sad or hurt, to feel disappointed, lost or impatient when things don’t turn out as you hoped they would. It’s easy to blame the others or the circumstances and to lock yourself away when failure occurs and suffering knocks at your door.
Some time ago I came across this wonderful story of a young woman who went to her mother to complain about her tough life. She was tired to fight and didn’t know what else to do to overcome her problems. She needed a piece of advice as she was about to give up, so her mother took this young woman to the kitchen and grabbed three pots, filling them with water.
The wise mother placed the three pots on fire, and waited until they came to a boil. Then she placed some carrots in the first pot, eggs in the second pot and ground coffee beans in the third pot, allowing them to continue boiling for a couple of minutes.
20 minutes later, the mother turned the heat off, removed the carrots and eggs from the pots, placing them on separate plates, and transferred the coffee to a bowl. Then she turned to her daughter, asking her what she saw. The young woman replied “carrots, eggs and coffee”.
The mom asked her daughter to feel the carrots and eggs and to taste the coffee. The young lady saw that …
… the carrots were sweet but very, very soft,
… the eggs were strong but so hard to digest,
… while the coffee was flavorful and tasty.
The mother then approached her daughter and told her that the carrots, eggs and coffee grounds had faced the same adversity, but each of them had a different reaction: the carrots, initially hard, became soft and fragile. The eggs, initially soft, became hard and strong, while the coffee grounds didn’t change their consistency, but changed the taste and color of the boiling water.
Be like coffee, change the water
As human beings, we’re supposed to interact with other people on a daily basis, and to face challenges and problems.
Some of us choose to react like the carrots, and become weak, fragile and easily hurt individuals. Others find the strength to get back up and carry on, but they turn into tough and hardly approachable individuals.
And others, they’re like coffee – they face the same adversity and can’t change it, but instead of allowing the circumstances to make them weaker or unapproachable, they influence the outcome. They’re confronted with the same problem, but they keep their integrity and release their fragrance.
Good fences make good neighbors, someone said, but when it comes to social relationships, building fences may not be the best idea, unless these boundaries are set the right way and allow us to continue interacting with the others.
We spend our days socializing and we may not like all the traits or habits of our friends, but this doesn’t mean we have to isolate ourselves in indestructible shells just to avoid disappointment and unpleasant situations. If we do so, we might get stronger when the water starts boiling, just like the eggs, but sooner or later someone will have to break the shell in order to taste the content. And this might hurt even more.
Establishing boundaries in our social relationships is necessary, as otherwise we may feel disrespected, controlled or squashed by the strong personalities of our colleagues, relatives or friends. We need a sense of autonomy, as this allows us to keep our integrity, values and sense of well-being, and to engage in social relationships without feeling unprotected, overwhelmed or threatened.
But we don’t have to please everyone, as this way we might end up like the carrots, when the water starts boiling: sweet enough to satisfy everyone’s taste, but too weak to maintain our integrity when moved on a plate.
When adversity knocks at your door, it’s you who decides the outcome.
If you find yourself in the middle of boiling water and can’t do anything to reduce the heat, be like the coffee grounds. Change the water.
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