(originally posted elsewhere)

A student went to a teacher and told him about her life and how things were hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved, a new one arose.

The teacher took her to the staff lounge. He filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to boil. In the first he placed carrots, in the second he placed eggs, and in the last he placed ground coffee beans. He let them sit and boil; without saying a word.

In about twenty minutes he turned off the burners. He fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. He pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then he ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to the student, he asked, "Tell me what you see?" "Carrots, eggs, and coffee," she replied.

The teacher brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. The teacher then asked the student to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard boiled egg. Finally, the teacher asked the student to sip the coffee. The student smiled as she tasted its rich aroma. The student then asked, "What does it mean?"

The teacher explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity: boiling water. Each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior, but after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.

"Which are you?" he asked the student.. "When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean? Think of this:

Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?

Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and hardened heart?

Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you. How do you handle adversity? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?

The happiest of people don't necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the most of everything that comes along their way.
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