Friday, June 3, 2016

Chicken Soup for the Soul - Jack Canfield and Victor Hansen

I picked up the first edition of the Chicken Soup for the Soul, a book that certainly influenced my outlook on life, for the second time. It joins a select list of books I bought twice - Tom Brown's Schooldays, Tom Sawyer, Kahlil Gibran's Prophet, The Mindset among others. The book was nice and warm like chicken soup for the soul and made me feel nice.
Westland Books, Rs. 35, 300 p
My original copy that I had bought more than a decade ago had gone to tatters I remember. I also remember sharing that tattered version with my dear friend Anu Raghavan who, true to her careful nature, read and liked the book, but more importantly brought that tattered tome back every single page intact. How much we reveal of ourselves through our actions!

So I read the book again, after a decade or more, to see if there was a different take for me from the stories. The ones that affected me then still had the same effect.

  • The story of John Goddard and his list of 127 goals that he wrote as a 14 year old and achieved about 100 of them or so - tough ones. 
  • The story of the man who threw one starfish back into the sea at a time - thus making  a difference to 'that one'. 
  • The boy who agreed to donate his blood to his sister - even under the scary and wrong impression he had that they would drain all of his blood from him. 
  • Bopsy, the kid with a terminal illness and the firemen who paid one of their kind one last visit. 
  • The kid who almost committed suicide but did not because a good thought came back - the ribbon he gave a person who made a difference went around to his own father who the boy thought did not love him. 
  • Another kid who cleaned up his locker with the idea of suicide but who meets a classmate who offers to carry his load, takes him home, has fun and saves his life. 
  • The crippled boy who buys a crippled dog because he thinks the dog will need someone who understands it.
  • The lovely story of all the animals who are made to take all subjects thereby compromising their true nature and strength and making them do mediocre work with no self esteem. 
  • The story of the man who does not cheat at the turnstile with his two sons ages simply because 'they would have known he was lying even if the chap at the turnstile did not. 
  • The boy who grows into a confident young lad saying 'I like myself when I am with you' (how many people can say that when we are with them). 
  • Students who burn their list of 'I Can't's'. 
  • Novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne's wife who saved up for the time when her husband would write his bestseller and allows him to write just that. 
  • The story of the Armenian father who digs with his bare hands for his son in the flattened rubble of a building that was once his school simply because he had promised his son that he would always be there for him - and how he finds him and 14 others in the rubble after 38 hours of digging with his bare hands and all that te son says is - "I told them you would come for me dad because you promised you will always be there for me". 
  • The Zen story of the two monks and the woman - and how the older one tells the younger one that he had left the woman at the shore while the other was still carrying her.


I loved all the stories. This time round I was impressed with the idea of how many people achieved things just because they thought big, stayed focus, asked for help and kept pushing at it until they got it. Asking knocks down the ego, yields inordinate returns.

Nice. Warm. Thanks Jack Canfield and Victor Hansen. And all the others who shared their stories.

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