I think we’ve all been in that situation where issues on the home front start to overflow onto the professional part of our lives and visa-versa. I came across a story a while ago that helps me deal with those difficult situations, and it’s all about learning to compartmentalize the different “hats” we all have to wear on a daily basis … parent, friend, wife/husband, son/daughter, boss, worker … it can become overwhelming.

Take a moment to read this story and I hope it brings you the same comfort and wisdom it has brought me over the years. I really wish I knew the origin of this story, I would really like to give credit to the enlightened soul that shared this nugget of wisdom with the world.

The Trouble Tree

The carpenter who was hired to help a man restore an old farmhouse had just finished his first day on the job and everything that could possibly go wrong went wrong. First of all, on his way to work he had a flat tire that cost him an hour’s worth of pay, then his electric saw broke, and after work his old pickup truck refused to start.

His new boss volunteered to give him a lift home and the whole way to his house the carpenter sat in stone silence as he stared out his window. Yet on arriving, he invited his boss in for a few minutes to meet his family. As they walked toward the front door, he paused briefly at a small tree, touching the tips of the branches with both hands. When he opened the door, he underwent an amazing transformation. His tanned face was one big smile as he hugged his two small children and kissed his wife.

Afterwards, the man walked his boss to his car to say thank you. Now on their way out of the house, the boss’ curiosity got the best of him so he had to ask the man about the tree on the front porch. He said, I noticed when you came up on the porch before going into your house you stopped and touched the tree, why?

“Oh, that’s my trouble tree,” he replied. “I know I can’t stop from having troubles out on the job, but one thing’s for sure – my troubles don’t belong in the house with my wife and children. So I just hang them up on the tree every night when I come home. Then in the morning I pick them up again.”

“Funny thing is,” he smiled, “when I come out in the morning to pick ‘em up, they aren’t nearly as many as I remember hanging up the night before.”