Our CEO describes himself as a chap ‘not known for his sentimentality’, although we don’t quite agree!
The following story is one he heard many years ago when working in mental health. He recently referred to it when discussing how hard someone found it to be consistently kind to others. That feeling of weariness or compassion fatigue when people perhaps don’t change despite repeated sustained attempts to help. A feeling of ‘running out of kindness’, is how he described it. You may have heard the story before or a different version.
Food for thought, none-the-less!
Warm Fuzzies and Cold Pricklies
Once upon a time, there was a village. All of the people in the village got along very well. There was kindness, love, compassion, and justice. Every person in the village owned a special bag. It was given to them by their parents at the age of 3. Inside this bag were hundreds of warm fuzzies. Warm fuzzies were soft, cuddly, cottony little puffs. When you gave someone a warm fuzzy, they felt warm and fuzzy inside. People in the village gave each other warm fuzzies anytime they wanted to let someone know they were loved. When someone received a warm fuzzy, they put it in their bag.
One day, an evil sorceress came to town. She saw that everyone was giving out these warm fuzzies from their bags and she didn’t like it. She went up to one villager and said, “Why do you keep giving away your warm fuzzies? Aren’t you afraid you’re going to run out? Here, take this bag of cold pricklies and give these to the people in your village instead, and keep all your warm fuzzies for yourself.” The villager took the bag because he believed the sorceress’ tale. The next time he ran into a friend, he handed him one of the cold pricklies from his new bag. A cold prickly made someone feel cold and prickly inside like they were swallowing a pin cushion. Soon all the villagers went to the sorceress and asked for their own bag of cold pricklies since they didn’t want to be the only people handing out warm fuzzies if everyone else was going to hand out cold pricklies. Once you had a cold prickly, you wanted to give it away to someone else as fast as possible.
The sorceress was pleased. Her plan was working perfectly. Now the village was in a state of fear and panic. Everyone started avoiding everyone else so they wouldn’t be given a cold prickly. People hoarded their small supply of warm fuzzies and didn’t give them out to anyone anymore. But no one was happy anymore either. One day a prince arrived in town and almost immediately someone handed him a cold prickly from their bag. The prince, recognizing the cold prickly, refused to take it. The villager was surprised and tried again. The prince handed the person a warm fuzzy from his bag. The villager was surprised, and a little ashamed that he had tried to give this warm prince a cold prickly and instead received a warm fuzzy.
The prince addressed the crowd and said, “Why do you give each other cold pricklies?” One villager said, “Why should we give away all of our warm fuzzies? Shouldn’t we keep them for ourselves?” Other villagers agreed. But the prince said, “Every time you give away a warm fuzzy a new one is created in your own bag. Don’t you see? The more you give away, the more you will have.”To demonstrate, the prince had everyone put down their bag of cold pricklies and retrieve their bag of warm fuzzies from their homes. He asked everyone to take out a warm fuzzy from their bag and hand it to a neighbor. This they did, but warily. Then the prince told them to notice that they all still had the same amount of warm fuzzies in their bags as before. People started giving away more warm fuzzies and noticed their bag was never empty. There were indeed enough warm fuzzies for everyone.
The sorceress was very upset and tried to interrupt the prince and get everyone to give out cold pricklies again. But the villagers didn’t want to listen anymore. They threw all their bags of cold pricklies into a wagon, set the sorceress inside it, and sent her out of town. The villagers realized they’d learned a valuable lesson. When you give someone a warm fuzzy, they, in turn, will give it to someone else. Eventually, it will come back around to you.