The Secret to Happiness
Many people seem to think they will find happiness if they attain more “things”.
Her name was Maria. She was an American citizen of full Korean ethnicity … a sixth-grade student of mine back when I first began teaching, at age thirty-two.
One day Maria asked me if I had been happy at the other jobs where I had worked. I told her I had enjoyed them all in some way, but that I felt I would be happiest with teaching as a career. I also told her of my goal to knock on the door of every student I would ever teach.
A little later on during the year, while I was having lunch with my students, Maria told me the story of ‘The Queen Who Sought Happiness’. I had never heard the story before, nor have I heard it since, but it went something like this:
“There once was a queen who sought to be happy. But no matter how many “things” she had in her palace, she found happiness to be fleeting, always temporary. So she journeyed to visit an old hermit in his mountain cave. “How do I find happiness?” she asked. The hermit replied, “Go through the village and knock on one thousand doors. But you must do so in disguise.”
The queen at first ignored the hermit’s advice. But no matter how hard she tried to fill her life with happiness from things … her heart grew ever more hollow. So one day, in desperation, she dressed in disguise as a beggar woman and slipped down into the village. There, she knocked on the first door.
A poor man and woman invited her in for what little food they had. “We don’t have much,” they told the ‘beggar woman’, “but what we have we will share with you.”
The queen quickly returned to her castle and ordered her best cook to take food to the family at the first house in the village. “But do not reveal that the queen has sent you!” she instructed.
The queen knocked on another door the next day. There a family was crying, tenderly tending to their sick youngest child, who was dying.
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