Fairy tales are enjoyable and entertaining, and they can also serve as life lessons, particularly about kindness. This one from Grimms’ Fairy Tales titled, The Three Little Men In The Woods, is just one example of how fairy tales help children, and even adults, learn from stories.
Once in winter, when everything was frozen as hard as a stone, and the hills and valleys were covered with snow, [a] woman made a dress of paper, called her stepdaughter, and said, “Here, put this dress on and go out into the woods and fetch me a basketful of strawberries. I have a longing for some.”
“Good heaven.” said the girl. “Strawberries don’t grow in the winter. The ground is frozen, and furthermore the snow has covered everything. And why am I to go out in this paper dress? It is so cold outside that one’s breath freezes. The wind will blow through the dress, and the thorns will tear it from my body.”
“Will you contradict me?” said the stepmother. “Be on your way, and do not let me see you again until you have the basketful of strawberries.” Then she gave her a little piece of hard bread and said, “You can eat from this all day,” while thinking, “You will freeze and starve to death out there, and I shall never see you again.”
The girl obeyed and put on the paper dress and went out with the basket. There was nothing but snow far and wide, and not a green blade was to be seen. After coming into the woods she saw a small house. Three little dwarfs peeped out. She greeted them and gently knocked on the door.
They shouted, “Come in,” and she went into the room and sat down on the bench by the stove to warm herself and eat her breakfast. The dwarfs said, “Give us some of it, too.” “Gladly,” she said, and broke her piece of bread in two, giving them half.” They asked, “What are you doing here in the woods in the wintertime and in your thin dress.” “Oh,” she answered, “I am supposed to gather a basketful of strawberries, and am not allowed to go home until I have them.”
When she had eaten her bread they gave her a broom and said, “Sweep away the snow next to the back door.”
Once she was outside, the three little men said to one another, “What shall we give her for being so polite and good and sharing her bread with us.”
The first one said, “I grant her that every day she shall grow more beautiful.”
The second one said, “I grant her that gold pieces shall fall from her mouth every time she speaks a word.”
The third one said, “I grant her that a king shall come and take her to wife.”
The girl did what the dwarfs told her to, and with the broom she swept the snow away from behind the little house, and what do you think she found? Nothing other than ripe strawberries, which came up out of the snow quite dark red. Joyfully she gathered her basketful, thanked the little men, shook hands with each of them, then ran home to take her stepmother what she had demanded.
Upon entering she said, “Good-evening,” and a piece of gold fell out of her mouth. Then she told what had happened to her in the woods, but with every word she spoke gold pieces fell from her mouth, and soon the whole room was covered with them.
While the idea of being given three magical gifts seems plausible only to small children, the principle that holds the story together is just as true today as when it was first written: kindness begets good fortune. Unlike mere good luck or superstitions, good fortune is real and long lasting, and can manifest itself in many ways. Wally Hawley, co-founder of one of the largest venture capital partnerships in the U.S., decided to call a “half-time” on his life when he turned 50. Up until then he had focused on accumulating wealth in his life, now he was going to start focusing on trying to give it back.
Ironically, despite all his philanthropic work, he started making more money than he had when focused exclusively on his venture capital work. This is not to say that anyone and everyone will get rich by giving away their wealth, but there is a noticeably striking trend among philanthropic individuals who have been blessed financially after giving financially.
Many agree the positive feelings one receives as a result of philanthropic work is, in itself, a form of good fortune. Famous author, Dave Ramsey, wrote this applicable article: Why Giving Makes You Feel So Good. One of the benefits Dave shares is that generosity flat out makes you happier. When we are happier, we have a more positive outlook on life, have better and deeper relationships, and appreciate what we already have that much more. Isn’t this the best of good fortune?
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