Have you ever heard the story of the wheat farmer?
The wheat farmer struggled at work. He worried about the weather, which he knew he could not control. And so, every year he worried about the production of his crops.
He had family troubles. His children weren’t growing up as he had always hoped, and while he deeply loved his wife, there were things about her he wished he could change.
He was restless at night as his worries kept his mind racing, making it hard to fall asleep.
One day, exhausted from his life, he went into town to speak with an old wise man. People in the town knew the old wise man had a knack for solving people’s problems with his many years of life experience.
After going through his laundry list of worries, the old man replied, “I’m sorry, but I cannot help you.”
Angered and slightly confused the man said, “What? You are the wisest man in town. This what you’re known for. You have solutions to all of life’s problems.“
“All human beings have eighty-three problems,” the wise man explained. A few problems may go away, but soon enough others will arise. So we’ll always have eighty-three problems.”
“So what good is your advice?” the farmer asked.
“My teaching can’t help you with your eighty-three problems, but I think I can help with the eighty-fourth problem.”
“… what’s the eighty fourth problem?”
“The eighty-fourth problem, is that we don’t want to have any problems.”
Think about that.
If we will always have eighty three problems, then the eighty fourth problem that the old man described is impossible to solve.
So, what does the story mean?
When we think about our ideal life, most of us focus on the good aspects, rather than the struggles and hard times.
But there is no real example of this perfect life, because no one lives a life free from struggle. The realization that life is virtually guaranteed to be a rollercoaster of ups and downs is refreshingly liberating. That means that no matter how wonderful someone’s life looks on Facebook, to the wise man’s point, they too will always have eighty-three problems.
We will all struggle with something and find ourselves thinking negatively:
“Why can’t things just go right for once?”
“This relationship isn’t going the way I thought it would.”
“Why can’t I seem to get through my school work?”
“My boss is such a jerk.”
“Life isn’t fair.”
But when we realize that this is all simply part of our human experience, we can choose to react differently. In those times where everything seems to be going wrong, try to reflect on the saying: “you get what you give.”
The wise Henry J. Kaiser once said, “problems are only opportunities in work clothes.” So while we may never stop having a new problem to take an old one’s place, we can choose to face our challenges directly.