An African tribesman wanted to test his three sons to deduce who would be the best choice to succeed him as leader of the tribe. For this, he devised a test. He had the entire tribe assemble around a lone tree – large and commanding. He told his sons to find a way down a path with the tree in the middle.
The first son went around the tree and reached the finish line. The second son used his tools to bore a hole through the tree. The third son, however, took his time and uprooted the tree with his strength and had it thrown away from the path before reaching the finish line. The tribesman chose the third son as his successor.
What the story teaches us is that the tree is like every problem we will ever face. We can either avoid the problem altogether, suffer through it, or overcome it by dealing with it headfirst.
I was told this story as a child. It would have been just one of the several other folk tales parents told their children had it not come to be associated with my struggles and the question of how to be happy..
Two years ago I suffered a series of personal tragedies. These, coupled with my insecurities, admonished me to depression. It lasted for months – those were the months of uncertainty, suicidal tendencies, lamenting, self-pity, and reliance on drugs. It was a dark, lonely phase of my life.
In the middle of this trauma, I consulted some friends who directed me to mental health specialists. I read many self-help books and listened to empowering New Age music and watched and attended seminars by many personalities.
These encounters made me realize one universal fact: in order to overcome my problems, I had to find the courage to face them. The African folk tale I was told in my childhood came running back to me – I had to uproot my anxieties, depression, and listlessness and move on. I had to do away with the tree that was blocking my progress.
Realizing this fundamental truth was a crucial point in my life. It helped me cope with my many problems. I began with accepting that I was imperfect – then again, aren’t we all? Then, to begin the healing process, to finally learn how to be happy, it is indispensable to come to terms with your past. We all have secrets in our closets – we need to clear them out to have a clear conscience and start anew. Often this can be a painful experience, but it is always worth it. No good has ever come out of dwelling in the past – it is best to look forward and accelerate to success.
Facing what we’d rather avoid is a pivotal moment in our personal growth. It matures our thinking process and lets us explore other options – after all, the real world begins where our comfort zones end. While this is feasible from every angle, it does involve several challenges.
Such challenges may not always be weathered alone. We will need the companionship of a friend or well-wisher. Life is a lonely road, they say, but lonely roads can be travelled by two people too. Don’t hesitate from trusting others, and never lose faith in human beings – the human experience is incomplete without fellow human beings!
In the end, what is of utmost importance is facing your predicaments. Uprooting that tree will help you have a clear road ahead, and will also aid you in helping others uproot their trees. After all, life is not one single, solitary journey – it is a combination of several crisscrossing journeys. And everybody else knows something we don’t – we can learn so much from everyone. So never give up, face your problems headfirst, and never cease to be amazed by the generosity of humanity – only then can you learn how to be happy.
Photo Source: PixArc