Staying Hopeful in Hard Times

(image via Fernando Venzano)

(image via Fernando Venzano)

A king suffered from terrible mood swings. One day he asked a wise man for help, explaining his problem. The wise man gave it some thought, and returned a month later with a small beautifully carved wooden box. He told the king it would help with his emotional mood swings. When the king asked how much he owed for such a remedy, the wise man said, “It is a gift that has no price. However, you must promise to use it every day.” 

The king agreed. When he opened the box he found inside a simple gold ring. On it was carved the following words, “This too shall pass”. 

The wise man told the king, “This is the secret to a happy life. When things are going poorly, remember that everything is temporary. Know that whatever is heavy on your soul will eventually pass. Times will change. They always do. The issue will eventually get better. So trust that whatever challenges you face today, will not be so important tomorrow.”

“But”, continued the wise man, “that is only half the secret of the ring. ‘This too shall pass’ also reminds us that when things are going well, and our life is sweet, we need to stay in the present and appreciate the moment. The good times also don’t last forever, so remember to enjoy the moment and be grateful for what you have. Even if this is only a cup of tea with a friend on a sunny day, hold it, for it may fortify you through harder times.”

In my own life, I have had some very good and some very bad moments. The one thing that has stayed constant is that in no matter what occurs, I am almost always surprised and never able to predict a shift before it happens. But if I stay present to the good, and hopeful in the face of the bad, the path through usually feels softer, kinder and more generous.

On my right hand, I imagine a small and simple gold ring. I wear it always, wherever I go.