I’d like to share a little story with you that has always resonated with me.
Once upon a time, there was an old man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach every morning before he began his work. Early one morning, he was walking along the shore after a big storm had passed and found the vast beach littered with starfish as far as the eye could see, stretching in both directions.
Off in the distance, the old man noticed a small boy approaching. As the boy walked, he paused every so often and as he grew closer, the man could see that he was occasionally bending down to pick up an object and throw it into the sea. The boy came closer still and the man called out, “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”
The young boy paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean. The tide has washed them up onto the beach and they can’t return to the sea by themselves,” the youth replied. “When the sun gets high, they will die, unless I throw them back into the water.”
The old man replied, “But there must be tens of thousands of starfish on this beach. I’m afraid you won’t really be able to make much of a difference.”
The boy bent down, picked up yet another starfish and threw it as far as he could into the ocean. Then he turned, smiled and said, “It made a difference to that one!” – adapted from The Star Thrower, by Loren Eiseley
How can this apply to our lives? Here’s an example. Maybe we’re walking down the street and see a stranger approaching from the opposite direction. Will we smile at the stranger passing by or will we pretend we don’t see them? What if that smile, that small gesture, that small investment, was just what the stranger needed to shift perspective, to be encouraged, to pause and re-orient themselves, and make more positive choices?
This is what we are teaching teens through our in-school programs and through Inner Strength VIBE, our Teen Mindfulness Mobile App. Inner Strength perspective taking, critical thinking, and mindfulness tools help teens develop compassion and insight. They become kinder to themselves and to others.
That builds a better world for us all!
What is your starfish moment? Please share it with us in the comments!
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