Hidden treasures

Hidden treasures March 8, 2014

Imagine a small island. Half of the island is covered with a forest, and the other half is covered with rich, fertile farmland. There are two families living on the island. One family owns the forest and the other family owns the farmland. The family that owns the farmland raises abundant crops of fruits and vegetables, but they have no fuel with which to warm their home or cook their food. The family that owns the forest has plenty of wood to use for fuel, but no food to eat.

For the family in the forest, wood is plentiful but food is scarce. For the family on the farm, food is plentiful but wood is scarce. So the forest family trades some wood to the farm family in exchange for food. Each family trades away something of which they have plenty in exchange for something they need. It is easy to understand from this example that the value of anything depends of the perspective of the person assessing that value. The worldwide free market economy is built upon this concept.

Think about the perspective of the forest family in our example. For them, wood is plentiful to the point where they probably take it for granted. If they never ventured out of the forest it would be difficult for them to imagine why anyone would want to trade anything of value (such as much-needed food) for that wood. Only by considering and appreciating the perspective of the farm family can the forest family understand the value of the abundant resource that surrounds them.

Those things we take for granted, which we cannot imagine to be of much value, can have significant value for others. To understand and appreciate that value, however, requires moving beyond our own narrow perspectives. It is often necessary to put ourselves in others’ shoes in order to fully comprehend our own hidden treasures.

It is often said that the best way to improve your own life is by improving the lives of others. When it comes to uncovering and utilizing hidden treasures, that becomes quite evident. When you go through life looking for ways to be of service to others, it opens your eyes to the incredible abundance to which you already have access.

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