he other day two of my grandchildren were visiting, and one of our “fun” activities was to cut down an eighty-foot tree, six feet in circumference, that was casting shade and adversely affecting the thirty- to forty-foot bamboo plants beneath it. I planted the bamboo grove many years ago, but I simply did not notice the tree as it grew at the edge of the grove until it became a problem.
To remove the tree I used three 50-foot lengths of nylon construction webbing, two lengths of heavy chain, a six-ton hand winch, and an MS441 (Magnum) C Stihl chain saw. When the tree crashed to the ground with many tons of force, I turned to Brad, fourteen years old, and asked, “What is that tree?”
To my surprise, he remembered something I had taught him years ago and said, “A weed.”
Smart kid. A weed is any plant that is growing in a place where it is not wanted. It doesn’t matter if the weed is a four-inch dandelion or an eighty-foot tree.
And so it is with the weeds in our lives. A weed is any behavior or characteristic that is not serving us well—not making us genuinely happier. There are many qualities that of themselves are not bad: caution, aggression, intelligence, being right. But if these qualities undermine our happiness, they have to be pulled like dandelions or cut down like unwanted trees, or their negative effect tends to spread—often quickly and dramatically.