The warm afternoon breeze was gushing through the window. The leaves of the mango tree outside rustling and swaying to it. I could also hear the squirrels talk to each other, as they hopped from one branch to another, playing in the shadow of the tree. I love this tree specifically, it stood stall in the middle of a narrow sand-filled playground. My teacher tried her best to bring us back into the English Literature lecture. But my attention was clearly on the outside world. What more do you expect from a 5th Grader, who’s just had a belly full of his Dal rice and curry for lunch. (Not like we are any different now after a meal)
But something caught my attention that day. It was the story my teacher told us from our textbook. It was rather simple, yet inspiring and funny.
And so it began.
Titled: Mullah Nasreddin —a Sufi from Turkey
It starts with a small-time farmer who is struggling to support a large family of 10 in his house. He often felt he had no privacy and space to sit down freely after a tiring day at his farm. From a friend he hung out with often, he heard of a philosopher called Mullah Nasreddin, who helped people with solutions to their biggest miseries in life. One fine evening, he decided to meet this enlightening man.
At first, the farmer was rather taken aback to see Mullah look nothing like he imagined. He was funny looking and nothing like a philosopher at all. Skeptical, the farmer continued his stride, waiting in queue to get his turn to voice his issues.
“ I live in a small house, it's my own place. I’d planned it for a family of 5, but we are 10 of us now. I am unable to have my own space and I can’t afford a bigger place either. Please tell me what the solution to my problem is.”, the farmer expressed himself.
Mullah told him about the auspiciousness of having 3 cats and sent him off to keep them at home for a month.
The farmer returned after the said time and having followed his instructions precisely, but without much relief. Mullah advised him to buy 3 cows….. and then subsequently 3 chickens…… and so on for several months in a row, until the animals grew in stock at the farmer’s home.
The farmer’s frustration had grown. His home had become anything but a comfortable place, his children and wife begun to complain more frequently and the mental vibes had begun to get worse.
As this exercise went on, one final day the farmer broke down to Mullah “ Please make this stop, I asked for help to make my home feel better and I don’t understand how having more helps with that! I am unable to provide for these animals and I am afraid of their health in the long run!”.
So Mullah advised the man to visit him on weekly basis this time. He asked the farmer to sell one set of animals at a time and until the very last visit, where he promised him the solution.
The final day had come by and the farmer came running to Mullah, after having sold all his animals. He exclaimed “ Thank you Mullah! I finally feel so free at home. I didn’t realize how big my home actually was!”
Well, as a 5th grader I didn’t expect to understand the concept of reverse psychology here. As I grew older, the world more capitalistic- I’d begun to see how we often fall prey to this in marketing, sales, and even at our workplace and manipulative relationships.
I recall my manager saying this often “ Hey, I understand juggling can be hard and you have a lot on your plate, it would be totally okay if you don’t accept this project/task.I’d understand”. It pricks our ego, makes us questions our capabilities and we often signup without the hassle of having to convince us.
Reverse psychology is not all that bad when you employ it in the right means. I always wanted to help people in need through donations to trusted agencies- to either help educate children and provide medical care & food to old age homes or orphanages. For a long time, I looked at my dream of doing this, weighted it against my paychecks, and felt I could hardly spare much.
But, it wasn’t until I actually decided to donate that I felt I had more! It's weird how our mind works. All I had to do is simply perform the activity anyway, and create a reinforcing feeling of “ I have plenty”.
Are there any such interesting incidents or tricks you’d employed to perform your activities or pursue your goals? Do let me know!