The story of Stone Soup has many versions. This is one of them.
Once upon a time, somewhere in post-war Eastern Europe, there was a great famine in which people jealously hoarded whatever food they could find, hiding it even from their friends and neighbors. One day a wandering soldier came into a village and began asking questions as if he planned to stay for the night.
“There’s not a bite to eat in the whole province,” he was told. “Better keep moving on.”
“Oh, I have everything I need,” he said. “In fact, I was thinking of making some stone soup to share with all of you.” He pulled an iron cauldron from his wagon, filled it with water, and built a fire under it. Then, with great ceremony, he drew an ordinary-looking stone from a velvet bag and dropped it into the water.
By now, hearing the rumour of food, most of the villagers had come to the square or watched from their windows. As the soldier sniffed the “broth” and licked his lips in anticipation, hunger began to overcome their scepticism.
“Ahh,” the soldier said to himself rather loudly, “I do like a tasty stone soup. Of course, stone soup with cabbage — that’s hard to beat.”
Soon a villager approached hesitantly, holding a cabbage he’d retrieved from its hiding place, and added it to the pot. “Capital!” cried the soldier. “You know, I once had stone soup with cabbage and a bit of salt beef as well, and it was fit for a king.”
The village butcher managed to find some salt beef . . . and so it went, through potatoes, onions, carrots, mushrooms, and so on, until there was indeed a delicious meal for all. The villagers offered the soldier a great deal of money for the magic stone, but he refused to sell and travelled on the next day.
I love this story because it very simply illustrates the contrasts between two opposing mindsets, one of poverty and one of abundance.
The poverty mindset presupposes a pervasive lack. The thinking is there isn’t enough to go around; that the more other people get the less there will be for everyone else. This mentality drives people into greed, hoarding, stinginess and ultimately poverty. They always make it a point to take way more than they need and give way less than they can. This was the villager’s way of life.
The abundance mindset on the other hand presupposes a flow of bounty; that there will always be enough for everyone at the time that it’s needed. People who subscribe to this mindset are quite comfortable giving freely. They take only what they need and leave plenty for others. They share whatever is there confident that tomorrow more will come. There will always be enough for everyone. This was the soldier’s thinking.
Ironically, even after witnessing the miracle of sharing, the villagers still fail to get it. They try to acquire the stone thinking that is what will make them wealthy.
It is pretty hard to wrap your mind around the concept of plenty when you feel you want for so much. But really, we have everything we need. Even more radically, we can have everything we want. I personally find, that the more I struggle to break away from this crippling fear of lack, the wealthier I get. Doors open for me in ways I could not have imagined; in way so simple and elegant, it blows my mind.
Let me plant a tiny seed in your mind, hoping you will allow it to grow. When things get really scarce for you, tell yourself: “I have everything I need. I can have everything I want.” Now allow yourself to have it.