Home Opinion COLUMN: Why the best self-help book I've read is also a children's...

COLUMN: Why the best self-help book I’ve read is also a children’s book

Books.

They are supposed to be just words on a page, but more often than not, they are much more than that. Some tell stories, others take you into magical lands of imagination. But then there are those that provide insights so profound that force you to think about life in a way that you have never imagined before.

As the day came to an end, I found myself lying on the couch, scrolling aimlessly through videos on Instagram something I try not to do very often, as it can turn into hours of wasted time. After twenty or so minutes of scrolling, I came across a video that talked about a book titled, “The boy, the mole, the fox and the horse.”

“That’s a weird name for a book,” I thought. Then I closed Instagram and went about what little day I had left.

The thought of reading to it crossed my mind the next day, but then became buried beneath all the other things I had to get done.

It wasn’t until recently that the thought came once again to read it. At the time, I didn’t have a physical copy. Looking back, I probably could have gone to the library. But who needs the library when you’ve got the internet, right?

I searched for the title. Within seconds, I found an audio version on YouTube, complete with pictures and everything.

I began listening one day as I was cleaning my apartment. At first, the book seemed like it had been written for a third grader. “Snow has fallen, and everywhere is still, calm and white,” the book starts. The narrator has an accent that is distinct. I feel as though I am being brought back to reading time in elementary school only this time, it is in the beautiful mountains of Switzerland.

I sat and listened.

As I got further into the book, my anxiety and stress melted away just as the springtime snow. I felt as though I was being taken to a place where those things didn’t exist. I had been so overwhelmed with school, work and other obligations, that I had forgotten what this emotion felt like.

At first glance, the whole plot of the book makes it seem like this book belongs on a shelf in an elementary school library. It is about a boy who meets a mole, who meets a fox, who then meets a horse and how they all become friends. But then, as the story develops, the characters have these conversations about life, what it means, lessons learned etc.

When I say conversations, I don’t mean three pages long. In fact, just the opposite. Each of the characters chimes in, at least at one point in the book, to say this incredibly profound and thought-provoking sentence. It’s almost as if the author wants his readers to think deeply about what has just been said.

For instance, at the very beginning of the book, the boy meets the mole. They both say hello to one another. The boy then lifts the mole up in the air. The mole says, “I’m so small.”

The boy then responds with a sentence that shakes the soul and says, “Yes, but you make a huge difference.”

Tears formed in my eyes as I heard those words.

Two sentences; eight words. That’s how much it took to emphasize the principle that I matter and that what I do makes a difference.

I already believed that about myself. But I’ve also been on the flip side of that coin. Can you imagine the impact that those two sentences could have on that person who struggles with low self-worth? It may change their life.

The entire book follows this pattern — not too much, but just enough to make you reflect on your perspective on life.

Another example of this comes later in the book. By this point, the boy, the mole, the fox and the horse have all become friends. They are walking. The boy turns to the horse and says, “What is the bravest thing you’ve ever said?”

“Help,” the horse replies.

I’ve listened to this book three times now and every time I hear that part, the words tug on my heartstrings like the bow on a violin.

It’s hard to ask for help when so much of the world tells us that we should be independent; figure it out on our own. But how liberating it is to say that one simple word.

I’ve found myself being stubborn, not allowing the help of others and attempting to do it all on my own. It’s not something I would recommend. Asking for help isn’t taking the easy way out.

One of my favorite lessons that I learned from the book comes, yet again, from an interaction between the boy and the mole. The boy and the mole are sitting on a tree branch shortly after meeting each other. After a pause, the mole asks the boy, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

“Kind,” the boy answered.

We, including myself, are sometimes so focused on what job we want to obtain, what car we want to drive and what house we want to live in when we get older. Maybe, instead of thinking in terms of those material possessions, we should focus more on who we want to become as a person.

This book has taught me things that no other self-help book has, nor I think ever could. At least not in a simplistic way like this one. This book explains complex principles in a way that even children can understand.

The conversations between the boy and these three animals will have you rethinking the way you view and live your life. Your priorities will shift and your appreciation for certain things and people will deepen as you read the words within its pages.

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