Plant a Trouble Tree

BY: Mac Anderson and BJ Gallagher

A story from Learning to Dance in the Rain....

We all have storms come through our lives, but one thing is for sure-we have no right to make everyone else miserable with our own unhappiness. No need to rain on others' parades. A simple story illustrates my point:

The Trouble Tree

The carpenter I hired to help me restore an old farmhouse had just finished a rough first day on the job. A flat tire made him lose an hour of work, his electric saw quit, and now his ancient pickup truck refused to start.

While I drove him home, he sat in stony silence.

On arriving, he invited me in to meet his family. As we walked toward the front door, he paused briefly at a small tree, touching tips of the branches with both hands.

When opening the door, he underwent an amazing transformation. His tanned face was wreathed in smiles, and he hugged his two small children and gave his wife a kiss.

Afterward he walked me to the car. We passed the tree, and my curiosity got the better of me. I asked him about what I had seen him do earlier.

"Oh, that's my trouble tree," he replied. "I know I can't help having troubles on the job, but one thing's for sure, troubles don't belong in the house with my wife and the children. So I just hang them up on the tree every night when I come home. Then in the morning I pick them up again.

"Funny thing is," he smiled, "when I come out in the morning to pick 'em up, there ain't nearly as many as I remember hanging up the night before."

I don't know who first told this story-no one seems to know-but he or she must have been a very wise person. Putting boundaries around our problems is a really good idea-it prevents our difficulties from spilling over onto other people (especially loved ones), who can't do anything about our problems. Why burden them if they can't help us?

So, plant yourself a trouble tree outside your front door-or a potted trouble plant, if you live in an apartment-and use it whenever you come home.

Be grateful that you have loved ones to go home to, even if your loved one is simply your beloved dog or cherished cat or prized goldfish.

And when you pick up your troubles on the way out each morning, be grateful that they're not as heavy as they were the night before.

Click here to learn more about the other "Dance Lessons for Your Own Life" that are included in Learning to Dance in the Rain...

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