One of my favourite therapeutic stories is the story of the Sun and the North Wind, from Aesop’s fables. In this story, a traveller is walking down a road, wearing a thick and beautiful coat. The Sun and the North Wind are kind of hanging around talking to each other and being bored and they spy the traveller with his coat. The North Wind decides to make a bet with the Sun. “I bet I can get that man to take his coat off” he says. Of course, the Sun doesn’t agree, the North Wind argues that he is the most powerful and strongest – far stronger than the puny man – and after an argument they agree on the bet.
The North Wind goes first and blows up a great storm. The Wind howls, the rain thrashes down, hail and thunder and lightening – the North Wind throws everything he’s got at the man, but with every new gust of power and force, the man just pulls his coat tighter around him and struggles on.
Finally, the North Wind gives up and concedes defeat. “OK Sun, he says. This nut is just too hard to crack. Give it a try if you want, but you’re never going to do it. I’m done”… or something along those lines.
So, the Sun shines out his warmth. The clouds and wind go away and everything goes calm. The birds come out and start singing, the air is fresh and clear after the storm and the man on the road starts to feel warmer and safer. He loosens his coat.
The Sun shines on, the day grows warmer and everything is beautiful and pleasant. The man, who has been walking a long time, and struggling for a long time, takes off his coat, puts it under a tree, lays down and has a rest.
The moral of this story, of course, is that we have our protections for a reason, and it doesn’t work to try to force them to go away. The more we judge ourselves, or focus on how bad we are or how much is wrong with our lives, the more we are like the North Wind, attempting to force the man to take off the thing that is protecting him from the force being applied.
However, when we focus on the light of the sun within us – as we relax into the wellbeing that we already have, there is no longer need for a battle or for struggle.
If you get up in the morning and do what needs to be done, even though you struggle with anxiety or depression or pain, or illness, family problems or other issues – then you are already courageous.
If you smile at a friend or hug a child, care for a pet, or take a moment to look at the world and see something beautiful there, or even just refrain from being quite so hard on yourself for a moment, then you already have love in your heart.
If you take a deep breath and feel your feet on the ground, look around you and see the objects and colours of the space that you are in – then you are already able to be present in this moment.
If you can focus on these things – focus on the wellbeing that is already there – then that is really all that is needed. Everything else will gradually fall away, just as the man’s coat when the sun came out.
So, as a little challenge, I am wondering if you can share one thing that happened for you today, or in the last few days, that helps you remember your wellbeing.
Some possible examples are things like:
“I got up this morning, even though it was hard”
“I made breakfast for my kids and I gave them a hug before they left for school”
“I smiled at a stranger on the street”
“I watched the sunset and felt peaceful for a moment”
“I had a choice to eat a chocolate bar or an apple and I chose the apple because I wanted to care more for my body”
It can be anything. It doesn’t matter how small or simple, or if it is the same as someone else. The point is to remember the light of the sun in you, the wellbeing that is already and always there. Let it shine out – even just a little bit – and as you do you will also be giving inspiration to others to remember their wellbeing too.