Johnny Jones was a nice, popular boy, who everyone loved. He was so much fun, so good, and so kind with everyone that they treated him wonderfully, always giving him presents and looking out for him. And as everything he needed was given to him without asking, Johnny became weak. He was so spoiled by everyone that he couldn't endure any hardship, nor did he have any strength of will.
You would think that him having a little stone in his shoe was almost killing him. If he felt cold he would put so many clothes on that you would think he was at the North Pole. If it was hot, he couldn't keep his top on for even a minute. And if he were to fall and hurt himself... well, that was a nightmare. Someone would have to call an ambulance.
He became so well known for being weak that one day Johnny heard a mother saying to her son "Come on, my boy, get up and stop crying. You're behaving like Johnny Jones". That made Johnny feel so ashamed that he didn't know what to do. But he was sure that he would prefer to be known as a good boy rather than a softie. For several days he tried to see how much he could put up with hardship. It was true: he couldn't endure anything. Any little pain made him cry like a tap.
Worried, he spoke to his father about all this, though he was afraid maybe he would be laughed at for having such worries. His father, far from laughing at Johnny, told him that the same had happened to him when he was a boy, but that a teacher had taught him a secret trick to turn him into the toughest boy of all.
-"And what is the trick?"
-"Eat a candy less, study a minute more, and count to five before crying".
Johnny could not believe it.
- "Just that?"
- "Yes, just that." - said his father, -"It's very simple, but I warn you that it won't be easy."
Johnny went off happy as a lark, ready to follow that advice to the letter. He went to see his mother, and she noticed how happy he was when she offered him two candies. "One candy less", thought Johnny, so he only took one. It wasn't easy, though, and he realised his father and been right. To leave one candy sitting in his mother's hand really took it out of him! That same afternoon he had another chance to put the trick into practice, by studying for one minute more. The outcome was that he missed the first minute of his favourite program! But having achieved this gave him a great feeling of satisfaction. The same happened when he bumped into the corner of the kitchen table. He only managed to count to four before crying, but his mother was well impressed at that.
Over the following days Johnny kept applying the motto to his life. Eat one candy less, study one minute more, and count to five before crying. And the more he put this into practice, the easier it got. Before long he realised that not only could he eat fewer candies, study more minutes, and cry fewer times, but he could also do things that before would have seemed impossible, like eating vegetables or running for a good while.
Happy, he took some paper and wrote down the trick. He kept this in a wooden chest. The chest had a sign on it, saying "Important Things I'll Be Telling My Kids".