One night, in my frustration, I lamented to a friend, “How do you get rich quickly? I want to amass a hell lot of money; there are just so many causes I want to help and I just can’t stand seeing things the way they are.” He laughed and told me something I would never forget.

“It’s all about a change of perspectives to feel contentment,” He said, “One day, I was cheated to no end by someone. My money was gone and I only had 10,000 Rupiah ($1 USD)  in my pocket. And that was the last of my money, mind you. I used it to eat and buy cigarettes and had 3000 Rupiah left.”

I laughed at his composure in handling the situation.

“Then came a beggar. And I gave him that leftover 3000 Rupiah. Because in my opinion, there’s a way out of everything.”

Surprised at the turn of the story, I bid him to continue, “So as a result, I was completely penniless the next two days. But on the third day, my parents pitied me and gave me 20,000 Rupiah.”

“And you turned it to 20 million Rupiah?” I joked, knowing that he now had his own small business.

“Well, the moral really, is that whether you’re helping out others or volunteering, just do whatever you can now. And be grateful that you can do what you are doing and get motivation out of it. Nothing is ever instant. Just think about it, if on that day, I didn’t only have 3000 Rupiah leftover, maybe I wouldn’t have given it to the beggar. I wouldn’t have thought about what it felt like to need something. I might have even gone to the mall and spent my money foolishly, no?”

The story always puts a smile on my face. My friend couldn’t be more correct about changing one’s perspective, like seeing a glass half empty or half full. It reminds me of a story I once heard in a sermon:

A well-off father brought his son to an impoverished rural village to experience staying there for a few days. He wanted his son to realize how difficult being poor was and to learn from the experience so his son would grow up determined to be a rich multimillionaire.

After the stay, the father asked his son on the way home, “Son, what did you think of the experience?”

“It was interesting and fun,” the son replied, much to his father’s surprise. This was not the reaction he had wanted his son to experience.

“What did you learn from it?” The father prodded.

The son thought for a while and finally replied, “I learned that while we have one dog at home, the villagers have four to go hunting with. While we have a small pool back home, they have a whole river to swim in. While we live in a small plot of land, they live in a large free open space surrounded by nature. While we have lights to brighten our garden at night, they have a sky full of stars to brighten theirs. While we have tall gates outside our home to protect us, the villagers work together to protect one another. While we have maids at home to serve us, the villagers live to serve and help one another.”

To add to the father’s dismay, the son finally concluded, “Thanks for bringing me here dad! Thanks for showing me how poor we are compared to these people.”

Now, each time I feel dejected, I just need to remind myself of these stories to feel contentment. 🙂