There was a boy whose father was a horse trainer. And because of his father’s job, they had to keep moving from stable to stable, from ranch to ranch, training horses. The boy’s schooling was, thus, constantly interrupted. One day at school, his teacher asked him to write about what he wanted to be when he grew up. He did not hesitate a minute and wrote a seven-page paper about his aim to be an owner of a horse ranch. He wrote down many details, drew a location of buildings and stables and even a detailed house plan.
The papers were graded, and the boy received his paper back with the word “F Grade” scrawled on the front page. After the class, he approached the teacher and asked: “Why did I get an F Grade?”
The teacher responded: “I had asked you to write about a realistic dream. For a boy like you, who has no money, no resources and who comes from itinerant family, this dream is too far-fetched. There is no possibility that you will reach your goals one day.” Then the teacher offered to write the paper again with a more realistic view, about a more achievable dream. Later at home, the dispirited boy told his father the events of the day and asked his father how he should act. His father answered: “A decision of such importance should be made by you, without interference from anyone; so you have to make your own mind on this”
After a few days, the boy approached his teacher with another paper. To the teacher’s surprise, there were no changes made to the paper, it was the exact same description of his dream. To answer the teacher’s questioning look, the boy said:
“Keep the ‘F‘ and I will keep my dream”
The boy, known as Monty Roberts, is presently, the owner of a 4,000-square-foot house in the middle of a 200-acre horse ranch. Roberts’ first book, The Man Who Listens to Horses was published in 1996 and stayed in the New York Times Bestsellers list for 58 weeks, selling more than five million copies worldwide, including translations into over 15 languages. Three documentaries on Roberts have been released; also, he has his own television show on Horse & Country channel, Backstage Pass with Monty Roberts. He has received an honorary doctorate in animal psychology from the University of Zurich in Switzerland, amongs’t several other accolades. He still has that school paper, which is framed over his fireplace.
Moral: You have to follow your heart and never let anyone to steal your dreams; if you fall behind, run faster. Never give up, never surrender, and rise up against the odds.
The year was 1983. In Australia, the long-distance foot race from Sydney to Melbourne was about to begin, covering 875 kilometers… more than 500 miles! About 150 world-class athletes had entered, for what was planned as a six day event.
So race officials were started when a 61-year-old man approached and handed them his entry form. His name was Cliff Young, and his ‘racing attire’ included overalls and galoshes over his-work boots.
At first, they refused to let him enter. So he explained that he’d grown up on a 2000 acre farm, with thousands of sheep. His family could afford neither horses nor tractors so, when the storms came, his job was to round up the sheep. Sometimes, he said, it would take two or three days of running.
Finally, they let Cliff enter and the race began. The others quickly left him way behind, shuffling along in his galoshes. But he didn’t know the plan included stopping each right to rest, so he kept going. By the fifth day, he had caught them all, won the race and became a national hero.
He continued to compete in long-distance races until well up in the seventies. He was an inspiration to millions and a great encourager of younger runners. In his honor and memory, in 2004, the year after his death at age 81, the organizers of the race where he first gained fame permanently changes its name to the Cliff Young Australian Six Day Race.
What was the key to Cliff Young’s success? It goes by various names, determination, perseverance, persistence, tenacity.
It means keeping one’s eye fixed steadfastly on a goal and not stopping, no matter the difficulties or the obstacles, until that goal is achieved. A strong will, a settled purpose, an invincible determination, can accomplish almost anything, and in this lies the distinction between great men and little men.
Everyone wants a blue ribbon. Blue. First place. The best. Even kinder-gardeners want that blue ribbon. In sports, I was never a blue-ribbon person. In a race I was always last. In baseball I was as likely to get hit on the head as to drop the ball. In basketball I was fine as long as there weren’t nine other players on the court with me. Where I got my horrible sports ability, I don’t know, but I got it. And I got it early.
During the spring of my kindergarten year, our class had a field trip to a park in a town about 20 miles away. Making that drive now is no big deal, but when you’re six and you’ve lived in a town of 300 all your life, going to a town of a couple thousand is a very big deal. Nonetheless, looking back now, I don’t remember much of that day. I’m sure we ate our little sack lunches, played on the swings, slid down the slide, typical six-year-old stuff. Then it was time for the races.
However, these were no ordinary races. Some parent had come up with the idea to have the picnic kind of races, like pass the potato under your neck and hold an egg on a spoon while you run to the other side. I don’t remember too much about these, but there was one race that will forever be lodged in my memory, the three-legged race. The parents decided not to use potato sacks for this particular race. Instead, they tied our feet together.
One lucky little boy got me for a partner. Now what you have to know about this little boy is that he was the second most athletic boy in our class. I’m sure he knew he was in trouble the second they laced his foot to mine. As for me, I was mortified. This guy was a winner. He almost always won, and I knew that, with me, he didn’t have a chance.
Apparently he didn’t realize that as deeply as I did at the time. He laced his arm with mine, the gun sounded, and we were off to the other side. Couples were falling and stumbling all around us, but we stayed on our feet and made it to the other side.
Unbelievably when we turned around and headed back for home, we were in the lead! Only one other couple even had a chance, and they were a good several yards behind us.
Then only feet from the finish line, disaster struck. I tripped and fell.
We were close enough that my partner could have easily dragged me across the finish line and won. He could have, but he didn’t. Instead, he stopped, reached down, and helped me up, just as the other couple crossed the finish line. I still remember that moment, and I still have that little red ribbon.
When we graduated 13 years later, I stood on that stage and gave the Valedictory address to that same group of students, none of whom even remembered that moment anymore. So, I told them about that little boy who had made a split-second decision that helping a friend up was more important than winning a blue ribbon.
In my speech I told them that I wouldn’t tell which of the guys sitting there on that stage was the little boy although he was up there with me. I wouldn’t tell because in truth at one time or another all of them had been that little boy, helping me up when I fell, taking time out from their pursuit of their own goals to help a fellow person in need.
I told them why I’ve kept that ribbon. You see to me, that ribbon is a reminder that you don’t have to be a winner in the eyes of the world to be a winner to those closest to you. The world may judge you a failure or a success, but those closest to you will know the truth. That’s important to remember as we travel through this life.
You may not have a red ribbon to prove it, but I sincerely hope you have at least a few friends who remember you for taking time out from your pursuit of that blue ribbon to help them. I’m thinking those will be the ones that really count. I know it’s the one that counted the most to me.
A king once set out in disguise to discover for himself the happiest man in his kingdom.
Having met hundreds of people, at long last he came across a poor peasant, singing happily as he tilled the soil. There was such a radiant joy on his face that the king was drawn irresistibly towards him.
“Dear friend,” he said to the peasant. “Tell me the secret of your joy.”
“It’s very simple, really,” said the peasant. “One-fourth of what I earn, I repay as the debt I owe; one-fourth, I invest in the future; one-fourth, I give away in charity and one-fourth, I spend on my duty.”
The king was thoroughly bewildered. He begged the peasant to explain further. “My parents gave me the great gift of life, and I owe them a deep debt of gratitude. I now cherish them and look after them in their old age. One fourth of my income is thus spent in repaying this debt.”
“My children represent the future. I spend one-fourth of my income on feeding, clothing and educating them. This is my investment in the future.”
“Poor though I am, there are people worse off than me. I help them as much as I can, and one-fourth of my income is spent on charity.”
“My wife has placed her trust in me. It is my duty to love and protect her till the end of my life. One-fourth of my income is spent on giving her a good home.
“This is the secret of my happiness!”
Moral: True happiness comes from discharging your obligations and duties towards God, family and others and not on wealth, name and fame!
Once there was a king who received a gift of two magnificent falcons from Arabia. They were peregrine falcons, the most beautiful birds he had ever seen. He gave the precious birds to his head falconer to be trained. Months passed and one day the head falconer informed the king that though one of the falcons was flying majestically, soaring high in the sky, the other bird had not moved from its branch since the day it had arrived.
The king summoned healers and sorcerers from all the land to tend to the falcon, but no one could make the bird fly. He presented the task to the member of his court, but the next day, the king saw through the palace window that the bird had still not moved from its perch. Having tried everything else, the king thought to himself, “May be I need someone more familiar with the countryside to understand the nature of this problem.” So he cried out to his court, “Go and get a farmer.”
In the morning, the king was thrilled to see the falcon soaring high above the palace gardens. He said to his court, “Bring me the doer of this miracle.” The court quickly located the farmer, who came and stood before the king. The king asked him, “How did you make the falcon fly?”
With his head bowed, the farmer said to the king, ” It was very easy, your highness. I simply cut the branch where the bird was sitting.”
Moral: We are all made to fly- to realize our incredible potential as human beings. But instead of doing that, we sit on our branches, clinging to the things that are familiar to us. The possibilities are endless, but for most of us, they remain undiscovered. We conform to the familiar, the comfortable, and the mundane. So for the most part, our lives are mediocre instead of exciting, thrilling and fulfilling.
A man and a woman had been married for more than 60 years. They had shared everything. They had kept no secrets from each other except that the little old woman had a shoe box in the top of her closet that she had cautioned her husband never to open or ask her about.
For all of these years, he had never thought about the box, but one day the little old woman got very sick and the doctor said she would not recover. In trying to sort out their affairs, the little old man took down the shoe box and took it to his wife’s bedside.
She agreed that it was time that he should know what was in the box. When he opened it, he found two crocheted dolls and a stack of money totaling $95,000. He asked her about the contents.
“When we were to be married,” she said, “my grandmother told me the secret of a happy marriage was to never argue. She told me that if I ever got angry with you, I should just keep quiet and crochet a doll.”
The little old man was so moved; he had to fight back tears. Only two precious dolls were in the box. She had only been angry with him two times in all those years of living and loving. He almost burst with happiness.
“Honey,” he said “that explains the doll, but what about all of this money? Where did it come from?”
“Oh, that?” she said. “That’s the money I made from selling the dolls.”
This story is about a beautiful, expensively dressed lady who complained to her psychiatrist that she felt that her whole life was empty, it had no meaning.
So, the lady went to visit a counselor to seek out happiness. The counselor called over the old lady who cleaned the office floors. The counselor then said to the rich lady “I’m going to ask Mary here to tell u how she found happiness. All I want u to do is listen to her.”
So the old lady put down her broom and sat on a chair and told her story:
“Well, my husband died of malaria and three months later my only son was killed by a car.
I had nobody… I had nothing left. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat, I never smiled at anyone, I even thought of taking my own life.
Then one evening a little kitten followed me home from work, somehow I felt sorry for that kitten. It was cold outside, so I decided to let the kitten in. I got it some milk, and the kitten licked the plate clean. Then it purred and rubbed against my leg and, for the first time in months, I smiled.
Then I stopped to think, if helping a little kitten could make me smile, maybe doing something for people could make me happy.
So the next day I baked some biscuits and took them to a neighbor who was sick in bed.
Every day I tried to do something nice for someone. It made me so happy to see them happy.
Today, I don’t know of anybody who sleeps and eats better than I do. I’ve found happiness, by giving it to others.”
When she heard that the rich lady cried. She had everything that money could buy, but she had lost the things which money cannot buy.
The beauty of life does not depend on how happy you are; but on how happy others can be because of you.
Happiness is not a destination, it’s a journey.
Happiness is not tomorrow, it is now.
Happiness is not a dependency, it is a decision.
Happiness is what you are, not what you have!