Thinking Out of the Box
In a small Italian town, hundreds of years ago, a small business owner owed a large sum of money to a loan-shark. The loan-shark was a very old, unattractive looking guy that just so happened to fancy the business owner's daughter.
He decided to offer the businessman a deal that would completely wipe out the debt he owed him. The catch was that he would only wipe out the debt if he could marry the businessman's daughter. Needless to say, this proposal was met with a look of disgust.
The loan-shark then said that he would place two pebbles into a bag, one white and one black. The daughter would have to reach into the bag and pick out a pebble. If it was black, the debt would be wiped out, and the loan-shark would marry her. If it was white, the debt would also be wiped out, but then the daughter wouldn't have to marry the loan-shark.
Standing on a pebble strewn path in the businessman's garden, the loan-shark bent over and picked up two pebbles. Whilst he was picking them up, the daughter noticed that he'd picked up two black pebbles and placed them both into the bag. He then asked the daughter to reach into the bag and pick one.
The daughter, obviously, now had three choices in what she could do: Refuse to pick a pebble from the bag; Take both pebbles out of the bag and expose the loan-shark's cheating; Pick a pebble from the bag fully well knowing it was black and sacrifice herself for her father's freedom.
She picked out a pebble from the bag, and before looking at it, she 'accidentally' dropped it into the midst of the other pebbles on the path. She said to the loan-shark; "Oh, how clumsy of me. Never mind, if you look into the bag for the one that is left, you will be able to tell which pebble I picked."
The pebble left in the bag was obviously black, and since the loan-shark didn't want to reveal that he originally wanted to deceive them, he had to play along and acknowledge that the pebble the daughter dropped was white, and therefore he had to clear her father's debt without marrying her.
Moral of the story: It's always possible to overcome a tough situation through thinking out of the box, and not give in to the only options you think you have to pick from.
The black dot
One day, a professor entered his classroom and asked his students to prepare for a surprise test. They all waited anxiously at their desks for the exam to begin. The professor handed out the exams with the text facing down, as usual. Once he handed them all out, he asked the students to turn over the papers.
To everyone's surprise, there were no questions—just a black dot in the centre of the paper. The professor, seeing the expression on everyone's faces, told them the following: "I want you to write about what you see there." The students, confused, got started on the inexplicable task.
At the end of the class, the professor took all the exams, and started reading each one of them out loud in front of all the students. All of them, with no exception, defined the black dot, trying to explain its position in the centre of the sheet. After all the students' writings had been read and the classroom was silent, the professor started to explain:
"I'm not going to grade you on this, I just wanted to give you something to think about; No one wrote about the white part of the paper. Everyone focused on the black dot—and the same thing happens in our lives. We insist on focusing only on the 'black dot': —the health issues that bother us, the lack of money we have, the complicated relationship with a family member, the disappointment in a friend.
The dark spots however, are very small when compared to everything else we have in our lives, but they are the ones that pollute our minds. Take your eyes away from the black dots in your life. Enjoy each one of your blessings, each moment that life gives you. Be happy and live a life filled with love!"