There was once an old lady who cried all the time.
Her elder daughter was married to an umbrella merchant, while her younger daughter was married to a noodle vendor.
On sunny days, the old lady worried, “Oh dear, the weather is so nice and sunny! No-one is going to buy any umbrellas. What will happen if the shop has to be closed?”
These worries made her sad; she could not help but cry.
When it rained, the old lady would cry for her younger daughter. She thought, “Oh dear, it is raining! One cannot dry noodles without the sun. Now, there will be no noodles to sell. What will happen if the shop has to be closed?”
And so, the old lady lived in perpetual sorrow.
Whether sunny or rainy, she grieved for one of her daughters. Her neighbours could not console her and, jokingly, they called her “the crying lady”.
One day, the old lady met a zen master; he was very curious as to why she was always crying.
She explained her problems to him.
The zen master smiled kindly and said, “Madam, you need not worry. I will show you a way to happiness, and you will need to grieve no more.”
The crying lady was very excited; she immediately asked the zen master to show her what to do.
The master replied, “It is very simple: you just need to change your perspective.”
“On sunny days, do not think of your elder daughter not being able to sell umbrellas, but rather your younger daughter being able to dry her noodles. With such radiant sunlight, she will be able to make plenty of noodles, and her shop will be very prosperous. When it rains, think about the umbrella store of your elder daughter. With the rain, all the villagers will be purchasing umbrellas, and her shop will be very prosperous.”
The zen master made an impression on the old lady; she decided to follow his advice.
After some time, the old lady did not cry anymore and, instead, she was smiling everyday.
From that day on, she was known as “the smiling lady”.
— Adapted from a Buddhist parable.