Straw Hats & Umbrellas – Tao Story That Sets Your Mind Thinking

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Once upon a time, there is an old woman who is never happy.

She has two sons. The older son sells straw hats, while the younger son sells umbrellas.

The old woman never stops worrying.

When it’s raining, she worries for the older son, as no one would need the straw hats and her older son would have no business. When it’s sunny, she worries for her younger son, as there is no demand for umbrellas, and her younger son would have no business.

Indeed, how can she not worry?

One day, a wise man walks past her house.  Sensing that the old woman is unhappy, he asks her to share with him her problems.   The wise man nods his head knowingly when the old woman gets the worries off her chest.

“I have a solution for you,” says the wise man. “Just do what I tell you, and you can be happy immediately.”

“What do you want me to do?” The old woman is delighted.

“From now on, when it’s raining, think of your younger son.  His umbrella would be in demand, and he’s going to do brisk business. You should feel happy for him. ” says the wise man.   When it’s sunny, think of your elder son. His straw hats would be in demand, and he’s going to do brisk business.  You should feel happy for him as well.”

“So there is no reason for you to be unhappy,”  concludes the wise man.

The old woman does what the wise man says, and immediately she becomes the happiest woman in the village.


All things carry Yin
yet embrace Yang.
They blend their life breaths
in order to produce harmony.

Lao Tzu Tao Te Ching Chapter 42

Thanks Thomas Galvez for the picture.

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