No. 25


You may be familiar with the saying, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me." This is one of the biggest untruths I have ever heard. We should never underestimate the power of words, because if we let them, words can literally destroy our lives. As the English critic and essayist William Hazlitt once said, "words are the only things that last forever."

One of the best pieces of advice I've ever heard is to 'live our lives so we wouldn't mind selling the family parrot to the town gossip.' I'm sure you can see the wisdom of this thought. While there is no way to control the negative things other people may say about us, we should live our lives in such a way that no one would believe them. While I never like to hear negative comments about me, those I love or the things I believe in, they do come along from time-to-time. When they do however, I can either shake them off and go on pursuing the goals that are important to me, or I can let them defeat me. You see, the choice is mine.

Do you have trouble shaking off negative comments or negative things that happen
to you? If you do, I believe this story I'd like to tell you will help you shake off negative comments in the future.

A farmer had a faithful old mule that had served him for years, but now it was be-coming apparent with the passing of time, the old mule had just about reached the end of his days. As the farmer saw his old mule beginning to suffer, he realized he had to find a way to put him out of his misery. Being a kind, soft-hearted man, he couldn't stand the thought of just taking him out and shooting him, so instead, he devised what he thought was a good plan.

Since he was going to have to bury the mule anyway, he decided to lower him into
an old, abandoned well and cover him with dirt. He thought this would "kill two birds with one stone", as the old well was a hazard and needed to be filled in anyway. At this point, the farmer rigged up a tripod with a pulley and a hoist and lowered the mule into the well. While it was a very sad day, he thought it was the best way, so he got a shovel and a wheel-barrow and went to work.

As he poured load after load of dirt into the old abandoned well, a strange thing began to happen. As the dirt fell on the old mule's back, he shook it off and trampled it down. This process went on for several hours, with each load of dirt being treated the same way. The old mule would just shake it off and trample it down. Finally, the old well was completely filled in and the mule was standing on level grand. Then, he just walked away free from the prison that was to be his grave.

Obviously, this is not a true story, but it does make a wonderful point. The dirt thrown on the old mule's back could be compared to the negative comments and the neg-ative experiences we all have from time-to-time. When they do occur, we can either shake them off or let them bury us. The choice is ours.

Earlier, I mentioned we should live our lives in such a way we wouldn't mind selling the family parrot to the town gossip. This is, perhaps, the best way on earth to keep from having too many negative comments said about us. The next time this happens to you, and it will happen, I hope you will remember the story about the farmer and the old mule...JUST SHAKE IT OFF. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, Arkansas 72034.)