Stories have had the magical power to captivate our attention ever since we were young and learning about our brand new world. Even as we grow up, stories can still enchant and entertain us, and they often package valuable life lessons. One of my favorite tales is called “The Cracked Pot” because it is a cute anecdote with a powerful message that serves as a good reminder in my daily life to accept myself as I am and celebrate my unique being.
In this story, there is a woman who lives in a cottage in a rural village. Every day, the woman carries two buckets on a pole across her back as she treks to and from the local well in order to obtain her daily water supply. One of the pots is sturdy and transports a generous quantity of water back to the woman’s cottage, while the other pot is speckled with holes and barely holds half of its volume. The first pot is proud of how much water it can deliver, while the cracked pot feels inadequate because it can’t match the first pot’s capabilities. One day the cracked pot apologizes to the woman for continuously failing to bring home a full bucket of water. The woman exclaims, “Don’t feel ashamed! Do you not see the lively flowers blooming along the path to the well? I have planted seeds along your side of the path and every day you water these buds through your cracks as we walk home. I enjoy the exquisite blossoms on my daily commute and pick the flowers to decorate my home. The other pot may be better at carrying water, but it cannot create such a beautiful garden as you have.”
This story reflects the common tendency to overlook our unique qualities as we compare ourselves to those around us. The dejected cracked pot felt so miserable about his deficiency at carrying water that he didn’t notice the lovely flower path he was helping to cultivate. The pot didn’t recognize his own talents because he was preoccupied with comparisons and self-criticism. Similarly, as human beings we often judge our own self-worth by how we measure up to others. When we evaluate ourselves based on the aptitudes that others display, we are engendering a mindset of inadequacy because we can’t possibly possess all of the talents that we see in our peers. Instead, we can accept our personal challenges as part of our beautiful individuality and direct our attention to our own personal strengths. Focusing on the positive aspects of ourselves allows us to amplify these qualities and share our goodness with those around us. By recognizing that each person has a special set of skills and talents, we can begin to appreciate our own uniqueness and embrace the positive impact we make on the world.