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What would happen if you shifted your perspective on what you perceive to be a problem?

This morning I remembered a yoga teacher training reading on perspective: the parable of the farmer and the goat.

My recollection/version of the story:
A farmer lived in his hut with his wife, 4 children, 3 chickens, 2 pigs, and a cow.

Life in the hut was incredibly chaotic and stressful. The farmer was reaching his breaking point.

He went to the village elder for advice and said “My life is so stressful! It is so loud and I have no peace! What should I do?”

The village elder told him “Buy a goat.”

Shifting Perspective on Perceived Problems | 110 West Group | Cynthia Farrell

He was very confused by this. Why would he add to his already chaotic household? But he knew not to question the elder, so he bought a goat.

Now he was in his hut with his wife, 4 children, 3 chickens, 2 pigs, a cow, and a goat. The chaos magnified. His stress increased substantially.

He went back to the village elder and said “You told me to buy the goat and I did. Now my life is even more stressful! What should I do?”

The village elder simply said, “Sell the goat.”

So the farmer sold the goat.

And after that, life in the hut seemed perfectly peaceful.
I was telling my husband this story in preparation for having a visitor dog arriving on Thursday and staying for 10 days. Six of those days I’ll be out of the country on a yoga retreat. If you follow my posts, you’ll know we are 3 weeks in to having a puppy, along with our older dog. I was telling him the parable of the goat because right now, having a puppy feels like chaos. Having three dogs in this small house will be even MORE utter chaos. But when the guest dog leaves, I expect it will feel quite peaceful with just the old dog and the puppy.

I think of this story often when feeling overwhelmed by life, and I encourage you to as well. Whether it’s saying no to something, taking some time for yourself, giving yourself grace to not do “all the things”, or making choices about what must stay and what can go, just repeat these 3 words:

“Sell the goat.”

What goat will you sell today?

(I first read a version of this story in Living Your Yoga by Judith Hanson Lasater, an incredible book I recommend to everyone, regardless of whether or not you practice yoga.)

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