The Smile Economy

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Story File


Generosity and avoid materialism

Main Lesson

We often accumulate money to acquire things to make us feel better, but sharing time and money with others brings us more happiness.


A far off land


A King and a farmer

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The Smile Economy

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Moral stories for kids

A story that teaches children about true happiness

Once upon a time there was a wise King who worriedly observed the great importance everyone gave to money. This despite the fact that in his country there were no poor people and everyone lived quite well.

-"Why so much insistence on making money?"

he asked his advisors,

-"How does it really help them?"

-"It seems they use it to buy bits and pieces which bring them a little happiness,"

answered the advisors, after much investigation.

-"Happiness is what they're pursuing with their money?"

and after thinking for a moment, the King smiled and added,

-"In that case I have the solution: we'll change the currency."

And so he went to see the Kingdom's wizards and inventors to assign them the task of creating a new device: the smileofax. Before long, everyone in the land had been issued a smileofax containing over a hundred smiles, and in return the people had to hand in all their money.

-"Why use money if what we really want is happiness?"

said the King, solemnly, on the day of the exchange.

-"From this day forward we will carry our happiness with us everywhere, in our pockets, thanks to the smileofax!"

It was a revolutionary decision. Anyone could pull a smile from the smileofax, put it on their face and be joyful for quite a while.

However, several days later, the less thrifty types had used up all their smiles, and they knew of no way they could get any more. The problem spread so much that people started complaining and protesting against the King's decision, demanding that they return to the money system. But the King assured them they wouldn't be going back to money, and they should learn how to acquire smiles just as they had previously acquired money.

And so work began on the Smile Economy. First they tried selling things in exchange for smiles, only to discover that the smiles of others were no good to themselves. Then it was thought that exchanging smileofaxes could sort out the problem, but that didn't work either. Many people gave up working and tried all kinds of crazy stuff. Finally, after many vain attempts, and almost by chance, an old farmer discovered how the Smile Economy would work.

That farmer had had a stupendous harvest which he believed would make him rich, but his harvest came in just when the King had gotten rid of money, so the farmer could do nothing with all his exquisite food. He too had tried using it to acquire smiles, but finally, seeing that this wasn't working, he decided to go from street to street sharing the food with his neighbours.

Though it cost him dear to give away his whole harvest, the farmer felt wonderful after having done so. Yet he couldn't have dreamed what was waiting for him when he returned home empty-handed. Discarded on the floor, next to the door, he found his forgotten smileofax, and it was completely full of new, fresh smiles!

And so it was that the country discovered the true economy of happiness, having understood that it can't be bought with money, but rather with the good works of each person - the only way to fill up a smileofax. And they put this understanding into such good practice that up to this very day they won't hear anything about money, seeing it as nothing but an obstacle to true happiness.

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