Warm Fuzzies and Cold Pricklies

I remember hearing this tale years ago. I am recounting it here to the best of my memory.

Once upon a time, in a faraway land, there was a village in which everyone acted considerate, polite and friendly toward each other.

Walking down the street of this village, you would be likely to hear one person say “That’s a lovely suit you have on.” and the response, “Thank you. You played so well in the orchestra last night. You’re really good.” Another conversation might sound like this: “I’m delighted to see you today.” and the response, “I’m looking forward to working with you again.”

The people of the village talked this way with everybody. If you looked carefully at them when they talked, you would notice that after each person said something nice to the other, a warm fuzzy was exchanged between the two of them.

A warm fuzzy is called that because it feels, well, warm and fuzzy when you receive one. Warm fuzzies take up almost no room, so you can have many with you at the same time. There is an unlimited number of warm fuzzies, so regardless of how may you give away, you never run out.

One day a grinch moved into town. The grinch was uncomfortable when someone from the village greeted him warmly or complimented him. He had not come from an environment where people did that with each other, and he felt jealous and envious of the other people. So the grinch devised a strategy in order to stop people from giving warm fuzzies to each other.

The next morning, as the grinch walked down the street of the village, a stranger walked up to him and said, “Good morning, Mr. Grinch. My, you seem like an interesting person. I am looking forward to getting to know you better,” and handed the grinch a warm fuzzy.

The grinch put his plan into action. He said to the stranger, “Why are you offering me one of your valuable warm fuzzies? Don’t you know there is a shortage of warm fuzzies these days? You’re going to give all of them away, and then you’ll have none left for yourself. Here, there are lots of these. Take some, and pass these around instead.” The grinch handed the man some cold pricklies. Cold pricklies have that name because they feel, well, cold and prickly to receive.

The man, who had not heard of a shortage of warm fuzzies, took the cold pricklies and left. A few minutes later, when someone from the village complimented the man on his warm smile, he kept the warm fuzzy offered him and handed the person a cold prickly in return by saying: “You’re always saying syrupy, sweet things. You should learn to be more balanced with what you say to others.”

As news of the shortage of warm fuzzies spread around town, people throughout the village ran home and hid their warm fuzzies for safekeeping, and collected large numbers of cold pricklies to use instead.

Walking down the street of this village quit being a warm and fuzzy experience—and instead became a cold prickly experience. One person would say to another, “Your dress doesn’t look good on you.” to which the response might be, ‘You’re growing more wrinkles around the eyes.” Each would then give the other a cold prickly.

The Grinch observed that the entire village was growing unfriendly. He felt satisfied with what he had done. He had been very uncomfortable when everyone was warm and friendly to each other. People who are unfamiliar with giving and receiving warm fuzzies want compliments and encouragement more than anything, but they’re awkward with friendliness and need some practice with it.

The whole community became unfriendly, critical and sour. People quit talking to each other and kept to themselves. You’d just get cold pricklies from conversations with others. People grew tired of feeling disliked and of being criticized.

One day, a young man decided he couldn’t bear the loneliness anymore and called the entire community together to talk about what could be done.

When the meeting began, the young man got up and did something nobody expected: He passed out warm fuzzies to everyone there. He said things such as, “Hello, Mrs. Smith. You have such a friendly face.” and “Hi Sam, I really respect how hard you’ve been working lately,” and “I’m really looking forward to hearing you play the piano again, Susie.” Each person he spoke to got a warm fuzzy.

People were stunned. There was a shortage of warm fuzzies, and here was a young man freely giving all of his warm fuzzies away. Someone said: “Be careful or you won’t have any left for yourself.”

The young man responded, “Why is it that we used to pass out warm fuzzies all the time and never ran out before? Who says there’s a shortage? What good are warm fuzzies if you hoard them all and are afraid to use them?”

A little girl stood up and said, in a very quiet voice: “Thank you for doing this.” She then hugged the young man, took a crumpled warm fuzzy from her pocket and gave it to him.

The villagers talked well into the night. They figured out that it was the Grinch who had started the rumor that there was a warm fuzzy shortage, and they devised a strategy to deal with him.

The next morning, when the Grinch walked down the street, someone said to him, “Hello, Mr. Grinch. You look lovely today,” and handed the Grinch a warm fuzzy. Before the Grinch could react, another person said: “My wife and I would like to invite you over to dinner so we can get to know you better,” and handed the Grinch another warm fuzzy. In fact, everyone in the village came up to the Grinch, said something warm and friendly and gave him a warm fuzzy.

The Grinch was so caught off guard that he started to cry. Big tears rolled down his cheeks, and all he could say was, “I’ve never known people who actually tried to like me before.”

If you had strolled down the streets of the village after that day, you would have been greeted by people who would go out of their way to say nice things to you, and you would have received many, many warm fuzzies.

The Grinch decided to destroy all the cold pricklies that he had created. He was learning how to have friends and how to be a friend, and he was a much happier person.

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