A story of emotional intelligence.
Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room.
One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each day to help drain the fluid from his lungs. His bed was next to the room’s only window.
The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back.
The men talked for hours on end.
They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their military service, their jobs, and their hopes and dreams for the future.
Every afternoon, when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his room mate all the things he could see outside the window.
The man in the other bed began to live for those one hour periods when his world would open up and be enlivened by all the activity, noise and colour of the world outside.
His friend told him that the window overlooked a park with a lovely lake. Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every color and birds of every kind, while a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance.
As the man by the window described all this in exquisite detail, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and visualise these picturesque scenes. He would sigh with happiness.
One warm afternoon, the man by the window described a parade passing by.
Although the other man could not hear the band, or see the soldiers in their fine uniforms, he could picture it all just as his friend described it.
Weeks later, the day nurse arrived one morning to find the lifeless body of the man by the window, who had died peacefully in his sleep.
Later, the hospital attendants came to take the body away.
As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked the nurse if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone.
Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the real world outside.
He turned slowly to look out the window beside the bed.
It faced a blank wall.
Later on he learnt from the nurse that his friend was blind and could not even see the wall.
‘Why, then’, he asked ‘did he describe all these scenes he could not see?’
She said, ‘Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you.’
What emotional intelligence means
There is tremendous happiness in making others happy, despite our own situation.
Grief, when shared, is halved. Happiness when shared, is doubled.
The solution to many of our own troubles is to help other people with theirs.