The Happy Man’s Shirt folktale

Once there was a King who ruled over a nice and powerful kingdom. All the people loved the King and everything was perfect, with an exception. The King’ s son was always unhappy and nobody knew the reason why. 

During the days, the prince would stare at the landscape that he could view from his window, frowning all the time. 

One day, the King went to speak with him:

– Son, what on earth is making you sad? What do you lack? What is making you so depressed? Could it be a girl with whom you fell in love? Tell me and I will move the mountains to make her marry you.

– No, it’s not a girl. I don’t know the reason, but I just feel so unhappy. 

The king left him and decided to ask for help. He gathered physicians, astrologers, and the wisest men to find a solution. They went to the castle to see the prince and after three days they came up with a recommendation:

– Our Majesty, after reading the stars, here’s what you should do: you have to find a happy man and make him exchange his shirt with the prince.

Immediately, the king sent them to find the happiest man on earth. The persons they brought didn’t fit the role. All of them would always complain about something. 

Later, to release the stress, the King decided to hunt. While he was in the wood he heard someone singing a happy song and whistling a small tune, so he went there to talk with him and to invite him to be his personal adviser, but he refused. He was not interested in exchanging his peaceful position for a troublesome position because he was happy with what he had. 

The King recognized that he was indeed the happiest person and the only one who could save his son:

– You boy, you might have from me whatever you wish, but first I need you to help me…

– You need what?

– My son, the prince, is dying and only you can save him. Come closer.” 

The King grabbed the boy, smiling his brightest smile and quickly began to unbutton the youth’s jacket, then suddenly stopped. His arms dropped to his sides. 

The happy man wore no shirt.

This story is a re-told version of the  Italian folktale “Happy Man’s Shirt”, which offers good basics for a reflection about people attitudes. For me, there are two main lessons we can learn from this:

1. Happy people are precious and we should keep them near us

There are people who spend a lifetime complaining. Whether is the canteen food, the small screen, the distance between the parking lot and the office, and so on, there is always something messing up with their happiness. This kind of people sparkle a negative energy everywhere and they usually compare themselves with others, focusing on their lack of belongings.

On the opposite side, there are people that spread positiveness around them, no matter what their adversities are. They are rare because it’s difficult to achieve that state of mind: dealing with problems without allowing them to define who you are.

Whenever you find persons like the boy of the folktale, you should preserve and observe them; to try to understand their minds, instead of focusing on what they have that you don’t have.

2. Being happy doesn’t mean stop growing and reject new challenges

When the boy of this tale rejects a change because he doesn’t want to leave his current position, there are many possible interpretations and one of them is that the boy doesn’t want to get out of his comfort zone. Just because we are happy with our lives it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t embrace new challenges. It means that even we change our lives, we should keep “brushing” the mind to focus on the positive aspects (in order to keep the good and eliminate the bad).

If you know someone who is always moaning (or even yourself) and you would like to shift the focus, share this folktale. It will be for sure a good theme for a deep conversation between both of you.

On the other side, if you have this positive person working for you, who never complain, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t improve their conditions and give them as many opportunities to grow as it is possible for you.

So, bear in mind that having positive and happy people near you is highly valuable, however, it is your responsibility to nourish their mindset, otherwise, it’s highly likely that over time their special light will slowly extinguish.


2 thoughts on “The Happy Man’s Shirt folktale

  1. You could certainly see your enthusiasm in the work you write. The world hopes for even more passionate writers such as you who aren’t afraid to say how they believe. At all times go after your heart.

    Liked by 1 person

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