Life is about continuous learning. We can learn from all creatures big and small in the universe.
The butterfly has long been recognized as a symbol for transformation, which is defined as a thorough change in the form of appearance or character, usually for the better.
The butterfly story
The author of the butterfly story is not known, but many famous authors, including Paulo Coelho, has given their version of it with slight variations in the narrative.
Here is the story:
A man spent hours watching a butterfly struggling to emerge from its cocoon. It managed to make a small hole, but its body was too huge to get through it. After a long struggle, it appeared to be tired, and remained absolutely still, seeming to give up.
The man thought he would help the butterfly, and with a pair of scissors, he cut open the cocoon, thus releasing the butterfly. However, the butterfly’s body was tiny and wrinkled, and its wings were all crinkly.
The man continued to watch, thinking that at any moment the butterfly would unfold its wings and fly away. Nothing happened; in fact, the butterfly spent the remainder of its brief life crawling around with its shrunken body and crinkly wings, incapable of flying.
What the man – out of kindness and his eagerness to help had failed to understand was that the close-fitting cocoon and the efforts the butterfly was forced to make in order to squeeze out of that small hole were Nature’s way of training the butterfly and of strengthening its wings.
What is presented in this story is the final stage of the evolution of the butterfly. Let us now look at the other stages in their sequence.
- The egg
This is the resting stage. Here you are almost invisible. Nobody can see your skills and gifts. This can also be called the dream stage because here you can dream about what you can potentially become or do in future.
- The larva
This is the growth stage, exciting stage where a lot of eating takes place, and so growth happens. Applied to human beings, this is the stage where one gathers information, shares ideas, conducts experiments, launches into action…….
- The chrysalis (cocoon)
This is the transformation stage. From the outside, it looks like resting, but inside big things are happening. Human beings in a favourable environment tends to become creative. Your main goal in this stage is o protect yourself from negative influences and keep your focus on the process of transformation.
- Leap stage ( learning to fly)
This is the stage described in the little butterfly story with which this article started. This is when you come out of the chrysalis. You are the only one who can make it happen.
- The productivity stage: The butterfly
Then the cycle starts all over again.
Ten lessons from the butterfly story
- We are all butterflies waiting to happen. The talents and skills dormant in us will bloom if only we give them a chance.
- Today a caterpillar, tomorrow a butterfly. Do not lose hope because you never know what tomorrow will bring. Always be optimistic.
- Life is like a butterfly – you go through changes before you become something beautiful. No stage is permanent. When bad things happen, as Birbal said, we should say, “This too shall pass.”
- How does one become a butterfly?
You must want to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar. The intense longing to grow is the first step towards growth.
- The struggle you are in today is developing the strength you need for tomorrow. Do not give up. The struggle is worth it. As Bob Dylan said, “Behind every beautiful thing, there is some kind of pain.”
- Like a butterfly evolving, we must love each stage we pass through. Be not judgmental of yourself. You are becoming a butterfly. It is not only the destination, but also the journey itself, that is beautiful.
- We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through. When someone is successful, we see only the success, not the struggles that have gone before. As Janet S. Dickens said, “The wings of transformation are born of patience and struggle.”
- Everything in your life is there as a vehicle for your transformation. Use it. Discover the value of each stage of your life.
- Do not settle for being a caterpillar when you have the butterfly potential. Allow yourself to have the butterfly potential. Allow God to transform you from inside out. You should have a creative dissatisfaction with your current stage of life.
- What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly (Richard Bach). When you think your life is going to end, and all hope is lost, it may just be the beginning of another, more beautiful stage of life.
Applying these lessons in our daily life
- When we are faced with adversity, believe that you will emerge stronger in time. Anything that does not kill you, makes you stronger.
- Always be optimistic. Believe that something good will happen to you in the end. This is called positive thinking.
- When there are problems and setbacks, do not give up. Be persistent. Eventually, you will find a way out.
- Turn your obstacles into stepping-stones. When you see tall waves in the sea, do not be afraid. Learn to surf.
- See good in every situation. Every dark cloud has a silver lining. No matter how bleak the situation is, it holds the promise of something better to come.
- Be creatively dissatisfied with your stage in life, however comfortable you are. You are meant for higher things.
- Finally, a positive attitude leads to positive outcomes. A negative attitude leads to negative outcomes. Therefore, your destiny lies in your own attitude. You have the power to determine your attitude.