20 SEC READING: How poor we are

EN ESPANOL AQUI: Que pobres somos

Illustration by Ken Crane

One day a father of a very wealthy family took his son on a trip to the country with the firm purpose of showing his son how poor people live.

They spent a couple of days and nights on the farm of what would be considered a very poor family.
On their return from the trip, the father asked his son, “How was the trip?”
“It was great, Dad”.

“Did you see how poor people live?” the father asked.

“Oh yes”, said the son.
“So, tell me, what did you learn from the trip?” asked the father.

The son answered:
“I saw that we have one dog and they had four.
“We have a pool that reaches to the middle of the garden and they have a creek that has no end.
“We have imported lanterns in our garden and they have the stars at night.

“Our patio reaches to the front yard and they have the whole horizon.
“We have a small piece of land to live on and they have fields that go beyond our sight.

“We buy our food, but they grow theirs.
“We have walls around our property to protect us, they have friends to protect them.”

The boy’s father was speechless. Then his son added:
“Thanks, Dad for showing me how poor we are.”

story sent by Sangeeta

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  1. Anilda says:

    La riqueza va más allá de lo que socialmente tenemos estipulados “lo material”. Muy linda historia

  2. dhruv says:

    Thanx…..Sangeeta and Paulo for sharing an amazing story….

  3. Pradeep Kumar KK says:

    My daughter know this story very well as she learn the same in 3rd standard.

  4. Semih says:

    this is so impressiv. thanks paulo. i love your stories! ;-)

  5. So much truth in this story, one cannot buy stars.

  6. antti says:

    The story is beautiful and it has a message about our ‘wealth’ and ‘standard of living’.

    Unfortunately it is also one of those stories that tell us very powerfully that ‘poor people can be happy and live even happier than the rich’ so there is no real need to eradicate the poverty.

    There is still a lot to do in the world to help the poor people to get even the basic necessities of life. The poor don’t HAVE the fields that go beyond sight, somebody else owns them.

  7. kime says:

    It makes me think about me and my neighbor.
    Poor people know the nature and share that.

  8. Yajna says:

    Dear Paulo and admin,

    Loved this story, read a few great ones and wondered what address I should send them to, to be considered on this blog.

    Thank you for being

    1. Yajna says:

      Thank you

      Thank you being.

  9. Ivory says:

    Que lindo es ser niño …. yo asi pensaba cuando se fue mi papa y dejo a mi mama solo con solo a mi hermanito y yo. Nos mudamos para un apartamentito chiquito los tres, y me acuerdo que mi mama con lagrimas en sus ojos nos pedia perdon… pero mi hermano y yo lo veiamos grande! cuando uno es chiquito todo es grande, y todo lo aprecia. Gracias por compartir la historia :)

  10. Jelyn P says:

    Thank you for sharing! We should always listen to the children. They have a very positive outlook in life. ♥

  11. judy says:

    This reminds me that as a child I was so happy and we were poor, but I do not remember being poor at all. My grandmother taught me appreciation for nature and the world that surrounded me.

    Our days were filled with fishing, swimming and playing in mud puddles. Flowers, birds, trees and animals were to be enjoyed and respected and she taught us the names of all of them.

    She gave me a gift to pass along to the children that are now in my life. That is to teach them that our world is filled with beauty and that nature is our greatest teacher.

    Today I know that to have all the gold in the the world, but to be poor in spirit defines a lost soul. That is not to go without saying that there are many who do have alot of gold that are still rich in spirit and generous to those who are in need. If your neighbor needs a new coat and your closets are filled with many coats, please clean your closet out and donate to your neighbor. This is the right thing to do.

    Thank you for sharing such a beautiful story, because I started looking around to see if I really needed everything that I am so fortunate to have. The answer was “no” and it’s time to share. Love, Light and Peace to all.

  12. Natalie Dee says:

    What a beautiful and truly worthy story.

    And what other lovely stories are shared here from your other readers.

    The appreciation of people, relationships and what we are given in life must continue to be taught.

    I hope many more people share this.

    All the best,

    Natalie Dee
    Life Coach & Business Coach

  13. dridi ben fadhl says:

    c’est une très belle histoire et une belle morale !

  14. Jolita A. says:

    One of the best Reminders :)

    1. dridi ben fadhl says:

      merci pour cette superbe histoire c’est vraiment une morale que l’enfant a donné car l’enfant a été lucide et a bien examiner les choses de la vie !

  15. Shreya Damani says:


  16. Hiba Bannaga says:

    A father of a wealthy family took his son on a trip to the countryside to show him how poor people live, but the surprise was that the son really loved the life there and thought that their family was poor. I think that the son was right about everything he thought and said because all what they had in their home were just physical things, but nothing emotional or mental. They get everything with money: house, garden, lights, food and safety, while those poor people enjoy everything about their life because they do not worry about anything as they have everything naturally; they have big fields to live in, stars to light up the night, many pets, and friends to protect them. I believe the son is right because with money people can buy a house, but not a home.

  17. Gowrishankar says:

    Thanks for sharing this good story.

    1. iryna says:

      It’s superbrilliant. Ther’s alike Orthodx song.And I like one more story about two monks. One of them could speak with God and predict future. Many people have visited him. Another one envied him. He would like to be in his shoes. One day he caught a butterfly and took in in his fist, he went to the first monk’s cabin . There were many people and he asked ”If U’re so clever -guess what is in my hands?Alive or dead?”His idea was to kill the butterfly if the answer would be alive and let the butterfly go if the answer would be dead. But the wise monk answered”Everything depends on U. Everything is in your hands”

  18. Rosa says:

    esta historia comoveu me muito,uma das minhas favoritas…temos a riquesa das simples coisas que o mundo nos ofrece sem nada em troca e em vez de aprecialas passamos ao lado como segos com muros em volta de nossos olhos !! tracamos limites a nossa volta…Obrigado Paulo por partilhar simples historias com uma beleza grandiosa !!!

  19. Breda says:

    Kens bright and lively illustration is a g8 introduction to this story.

    1. Ken Crane says:

      Thank you Breda!!

  20. Beautiful! We easily forget the blessings we have in our lives.

  21. Nataly says:

    great Paulo!!! Thank you very much for this story….it’s really make us thinking what important is in our life and that not always lack of money make us poor people. We have great resources and don’t appreciate that we have

  22. loida says:

    thanks Chirag for sharing this story with us. i was touched. i didn’t notice i had tears in my eyes until i finished reading the story.


  24. MH says:

    it is a lovely story, BUT actually I don’t see it as a matter of THE RICH and THE POOR or which of them is more happy or which of them is more content & satisfied with what he has, nor it is a matter of who OWNS more than the other. Actually, most poor people are unhappy because of their sufferings in life working hard to get their bread or medicine and survive, and also most rich people are unhappy because they recognise that wealth cannot gurantee happiness. Only the few of both rich and poor find their own path for happiness and walk along it, reaching their inner peace, and gaining a richer soul. That child was one of those, I didn’t realy believe that all those living in that countryside were actually happy, and this is actually the situation all over the world..

  25. arun says:

    So I would like to share an incident with you all. It goes like this..GREED AND CARE: So at one of my known’s big rich house, I have noticed that an important discussion was going on and women of house were busy seriously with the lengthy discussion.It was like a round-table confrence. The topic of discussion was misused/eatings of eatables by the servants and maids.
    A: So I have said so, they are drinking the milk and eating the food without our permission. Yesterday I told him to ready the milk for my drinking and he poured lot of milk and when I asked that why you put milk in this quantity, he replied that the other members of the house may drink as well if kept on breakfast table.
    B: This is what I have told always that you do not care the things and before your marriage in our family I always kept an eye over them. I know they steal trhe milk.
    A: So next time I will keep an eye over them, the milk is not for them, and I will see how they will drink that… B: They even bring vegetables at higher price, check that as well..Give them something to eat, there must be leftover in refrigrator.
    A; OK … take that for eating
    SERVANT: how long it has been left in the refrigretor…?? Silence!!! I dont want to eat that… please take back……
    (remove the plate and bowl from the plate)
    Servant eats a little from plate and kept it back. Nothging for drink was given to her….
    when a servant in india is kept for house hold, it is promised to him/her that what ever we eat, you will also eat the same and there will not any discremination with them over the food. They may get low quality clothes, shoes or other things but they will be treated at par in supper then why we forget that when they join us… Imagine a servant with negative thought thinking about your discremination and preparing the food for you.. what have been offered by him..
    fall apart from general reaction,
    here I wish to know what the servant/maid thinks about the whole incident??????

  26. Hans says:

    This is all about looking at the same thing from different perspectives. There’s no wrong or right in this story. It shows us that if we look at something from a different perspective, we do not always see the same things.

  27. Renata Araújo says:

    Deus nos dá tudo, só que ní£o enchergamos!Somos ricos só pelo fato de Deus nos amar e nos dá a vida!

  28. Amal Chaudhuri says:

    Difficult to digest this typically rich peoples’ drawing room romanticism! Expression out of pragmatic and more rooted observation would have been really really sad than this cosmetic mind tickler.


  30. I really moved with this story. The pureness and truth of son, makes me cry. Thanks to it for today.

  31. mily says:

    muy importante la respuesta del niño y muy buena la enseñanza felicitaciones por tan bella reflexcion

  32. Mary joy Anes-Dadivas says:

    the story is awakening ,realizing that there is BIGsurppises in small packages…simplicity is Beauty….as contentment in life is essential for real happiness .to the author Mr .P Coelho…thank you so much for inspiring.:))))

  33. Querido Paulo; he vuelto a leer El Peregrino de Compostela; diario de un Mago, con fotografí­as, lo habí­a leido hace casi 20 años, pero vuelve la misma magia y misterio,..,la misma conexión extraña con algo en mi interior que se me escapa, fe, espiritualidad, deidad, sobrenatural…, no lo sé pero es una sensación , experiencia agradable, al leer tus libros, sensación de paz y de verdad, muchas gracias, que D. te bendiga.!

  34. Chirag says:

    This is a powerful message for our modern society. We seem to have lost our bearing & our sense of direction.

    One young academically excellent person went to apply for a managerial position in a big company.

    He passed the first interview; the director did the last interview.The director discovered from the CV that the youth’s academic achievements were excellent all the way, from the secondary school until the postgraduate research, never had a year when he did not score.

    The director asked, “Did you obtain any scholarships in school?” The youth answered “none”.

    The director asked, “Was it your father who paid for your school fees?” The youth answered, “My father passed away when I was one year old, it was my mother who paid for my school fees.

    The director asked, “Where did your mother work?” The youth answered, “My mother worked as laundry woman. The director requested the youth to show his hands. The youth showed a pair of hands that were smooth and perfect.

    The director asked, “Have you ever helped your mother wash the clothes before?” The youth answered, “Never, my mother always wanted me to study and read more books. Furthermore, my mother can wash clothes faster than me.

    The director said, “I have a request. “When you go back today, go and clean your mother’s hands, and then see me tomorrow morning.”

    The youth felt that his chance of landing the job was high. When he went back, he happily requested his mother to let him clean her hands. His mother felt strange, happy but with mixed feelings, she showed her hands to the young man.

    The youth cleaned his mother’s hands slowly. His tear fell as he did that. It was the first time he noticed that his mother’s hands were so wrinkled, and there were so many bruises in her hands. Some bruises were so painful that his mother shivered when they were cleaned with water.

    This was the first time the youth realized that it was this pair of hands that washed the clothes everyday to enable him to pay the school fee. The bruises in the mother’s hands were the price that the mother had to pay for his graduation, academic excellence and his future.

    After finishing the cleaning of his mother’s hands, the youth quietly washed all the remaining clothes for his mother.

    That night, mother and son talked for a very long time.

    Next morning, the youth went to the director’s office.

    The Director noticed the tears in the youth’s eyes, asked: “Can you tell me what have you done and learned yesterday in your house?”

    The youth answered, “I cleaned my mother’s hand, and also finished cleaning all the remaining clothes’

    The Director asked, “Please tell me your feelings.”

    The youth said:

    1. I know now what appreciation is. Without my mother, there would not have been the successful me today.
    2. By working together and helping my mother, only I now realize how difficult and tough it is to get something done.
    3. I have come to appreciate the importance and value of family relationships.

    The director said, “This is what I am looking for to be my manager.I want to recruit a person who can appreciate the help of others, a person who knows the sufferings of others to get things done, and a person who would not put money as his only goal in life. You are hired.

    Later on, this young person worked very hard, and received the respect of his subordinates. Every employee worked diligently and as a team. The company’s performance improved tremendously.

    A child, who has been protected and habitually given whatever he wanted, would develop “entitlement mentality” and would always put him self first. He would be ignorant of his parent’s efforts. When he starts work, he assumes that every person must listen to him, and when he becomes a manager, he would never know the sufferings of his employees and would always blame others. For this kind of a person, who may be good academically, may be successful for a while, but eventually would not feel sense of achievement. He will grumble and be full of hatred and fight for more. If we are this kind of protective parents, are we really showing love or are we destroying the children instead?

    You can let your children live in a big house, eat a good meal, learn piano, watch a big screen TV. But when you are cutting grass, please let them experience it. After a meal, let them wash their plates and bowls together with their brothers and sisters. It is not because you do not have money to hire a maid, you want them to understand, no matter how rich their parents are, one day their hair will grow gray, same as the mother of that young person. The most important thing is your children learn how to appreciate the effort and experience the difficulty and learn how to work with others to get things done.


    1. Wesam says:

      Thank you for sharing the story with us, Chirag.

    2. Dimitra says:

      Your story resonates with me the most.It’s one thing to appreciate nature’s simplicity and beauty ,but another to improve your future life with education and by learning how to recognize all the efforts and sacrifice that go into that.Where did you find such a story?Yes,I had tears in my eyes!

    3. Ken Crane says:

      Dear Chirag,

      A big hug to his mother!!


    4. Marcial says:

      wow..i thought this story was about me..t’was so similar with my life..i was tryin not to rewind it anymore ’cause it really breaks my heart..great lessons were the price..

    5. Dear,

      your story and reflections afterwards made me go back into time when my son was about ten years old. There was a period in my life where I did not have a job and had to live on a small allowance.

      Even though I loved my son dearly and let him feel that I did, I had more often than not to say ‘no’ when he asked to have something that all his friends had received. I compensated not being able to give him what I got when I was a child, by playing endless games and by receiving his friends whenever possible. I told him that we were much richer than all his other friends because we had one another and because we had to learn the hard way that being loved and being able to love did not cost us a dime but that it made us much happier dan all the money in the world could do.

      A few years later we were driving home when my son started talking about his friends and the way they lived their lives. I apologized to my son for not being able to give him the same but he answered me that I did not have to do so because he always had had everything. That when I was out of a job, he would see me more often and that when I had a job I would from time to time say ‘yes’ instead as ‘no’.

      My son is almost 22 now and has and still is studying abroad whenever he can. Last year we were having dinner in a small restaurant and once more we were talking about all these friends he had since he was a young child. Once more I told him that from time to time it had saddened me that I never could give him wat his friends had received. My son looked at me and told me that he would not have wanted another life than the life I had given to him. That for a great part he had become the person he wanted to be and not a spoiled brat as many of his friends had become.

      This year my son will have his bachelor in Economical Engineering but his masters will not take the same path. He decided that the world had already given him so much that it was time that he found a way to give something back. Even though we are Belgian, my son has been accepted at three universities in the UK. One of which will enable him to do a masters in International Relations (Post War Trauma). He really is keen on helping people who have a lesser life than he ever had.

      I am sorry that I am cluthering your space with this story.

    6. ekta says:

      I am glad that u cluttered the space with this story :) Kudos to you and your son.

    7. Sheila says:

      Wow, Chirag! That is just beautiful! Best story and example of wholeness in living I’ve read. Thank you, my friend, for taking the time and energy to share this, and enjoy this blessed day! ;-D

    8. Heimo Kruschinski says:

      Absolutely gorgeous! Thank you very much Chirag!

      I wish you a wonderful evening

    9. komali says:

      this story rolled tears in my eyes it’s bcoz, i have a similar mther who wont let me do even a piece of work and works hard for me.nw i finished my education and its tme for me to serve her….big hug all such loving mom’s.
      thanks for sharing the story chirag.

    10. abdul says:

      i love this story.

  35. shiva says:

    very nice,,,,, brought tears to my eyes….:)

    1. Mary joy Anes-Dadivas says:

      so great… this applies SIMPLICITY is BEAUTY:)))

  36. farbod says:

    yes . It is completely true !all os us have many things which we do not care about them !! but do not forget : money makes you stronger !!! I test it !! do you want to test it !!?? BE RICH BE POWERFUL !!
    God bless all of us !!

  37. mitra says:

    it was such a lovely story that makes us realizied that the bigest wealth is freedoom from wants not jast having political economy.

  38. Saga says:

    Thank you Paulo….this is a story that I will tell to others again and again. Poverty is not measured in our wallets and bankaccounts, but in our minds.

  39. Nitin Awchar says:

    Ab main ration ki kataron me nazar aata hoon
    Apne kheton se bichhadne ki saza pata hoon…
    – Khalil Dhantejvi, Urdu Poet
    reading this story my eyes filled with tears….

  40. ani says:

    again thanks Paulo….beyond definitions there is a reality which very few people experience……

  41. Ric Nagualero says:

    This is one of my favorite stories ever :-)
    The earth is generous, it’s men with his fear of scarcity that ends up becoming poor of spirit

    Thanks for sharing the story Paulo you are the best