Self Improvement and The 10 Cow Wife

Almost twenty years ago I read an article in Reader’s Digest that has stayed with me over the years, and for someone who can’t remember what she had for breakfast, this is remarkable.

The gist of the story is this. An Ameican man visited a fried of his in India. The friend was preparing to be married and introduced his wife-to-be to his fAmerican friend who observed that the woman was quite ordinary, unremarkable, plain but very pleasant.

He returned for a visit some yeas later and when the wife came to greet him he was astonished. She was beautiful, gracious, friendly and carried herself like a princess. When alone with his friend the American remarked that she couldn’t be the same woman he met on the last trip. “Yes, she is,” the Indian friend responded and told this story:

It was  their custom for the man to present a cow or cows to the prospective bride’s family. The number of cows given represented the value the man placed on his intended bride. He presented ten cows. Ten. That said to everyone that his bride was the top of the line – the best – of the greatest value. And, after the marriage, he treated her like a 10 cow wife.

She grew to meet his expectations and became a 10 cow wife – a treasure to him in every way. She grew to meet and exceed his expectations.

Don’t we often we rise or lower ourselves to meet other’s expectations? If someone thinks you’re smart, for instance, don’t you try to meet their expectations by working extra hard to learn what they have to teach? Or if  they say you’re beautiful or handsome, don’t you spend extra time getting ready when you know you will see them?

Conversley, if someone significant to you nags you, demeans you, continually corrects you, don’t you somethimes meet those expectations as well? Are you motivated to work hard if someone regularly accuses you of being lazy? If you are repeatedly told that it’s too bad you aren’t as pretty as your sister, does it make you feel good about your sister or bad about yourself? If you are told you aren’t smart enough, will you try for the challenging opportunity?

But whose opinion really counts? Yours, of course. Give yourself the equivalent of 10 cows. Consider yourself a 10 cow wife or husband, a 10 cow student, a 10 cow friend. As the motivational speakers say, you become what you think about all day long. Think about the 10 cow you!

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