English Reading Practice
Story Number 16:
Watch the video at the top of the page.
Read the story "Be Industrious" just below it.
Do the exercises at the bottom of the page.
is the Be
You can watch it in your own language at The
Way to Happiness Foundation
click the word "language" at the top right corner of that page.)
Way to Happiness is a common sense guide to
better living which has been distributed to more than 100 million
people in over 100 languages. It describes 21
principles to a better quality of life.
number 16 is "Be Industrious."
To be industrious means to
and purposefully getting things done.
read the short story about this important principle.
is a middle-aged man who is going through a very difficult time in his
life. His wife recently passed
away. She and Barry had many happy years together, sharing their free
time and even starting a business together. Without his wife, Barry is
full of sorrow and feels that life is pointless. He even decides to
close their business because working there makes him miss her too much.
Even months later, Barry sits around in his house all day feeling
gloomy. His friends and family try to get him out of the house and
encourage him to start doing new things and enjoy life, but they are
Barry's neighbor, a very old woman named Gertrude, sees him from her
yard one day as he steps out onto his porch. She has not seen him
outside in days! She asks him to come closer. Irritated, he walks to
the fence that protects the front of her house.
"Hello, Barry! Just look at this fence. I only had it put in two years
ago, but it is falling apart. You are a strong man, and you have some
free time. I want you to fix this fence for me," Gertrude says.
Barry is angry. She knows the situation he is in. He is the one who
needs help and support. He thinks the old lady is being very selfish.
Still, he knows she is too old to fix the fence herself, and they have
been neighbors for years. She is a nice woman, and he respects her. He
agrees to fix her fence because it is really not safe for her to have
it broken like that.
Barry works on the fence for days. Gertrude brings him lemonade while
he works. When he finishes, she is very grateful. Barry smiles for the
first time in months.
"Now that you did such a wonderful job fixing my fence, do you think
you could paint it for me?" Gertrude smiles at him.
Barry cannot believe she is asking for more help. Doesn't she know how
sad he is? But because he respects her so much, Barry agrees. He works
hard painting the fence in the hot sun, but Gertrude's lemonade and
encouragement are wonderful. He feels proud of the beautiful fence he
Over the next few weeks, Gertrude keeps giving Barry jobs. He repairs
her door and even builds a beautiful patio with wooden furniture for
her. As they sit there and drink lemonade, all the neighbors pass by
and tell Berry what a beautiful job he has done. He and Gertrude cannot
Barry no longer feels that life is pointless. He feels proud of his
work and useful to Gertrude. And he is still young, he thinks. Barry
decides he will become a carpenter! He thanks Gertrude. He finally
realizes that she was never being rude, she is really very wise. She
knew that sorrow can be eased by simply getting busy at something. He
helped her, but she truly saved him.
And now, practice:
1. What does "industrious" mean?
a) actively and
purposefully getting things done
b) doing things just because you have to
c) waiting a long time before starting to do things
d) making lists of the things you have to do
2. What does "sorrow" mean?
c) great sadness
3. What does "encouragement" mean?
a) doing and
to make someone feel more hopeful
b) helping a person with your knowledge
c) doing a task for someone else
d) helping someone to pay for something
1. Barry is going ________ a very difficult time.
2. Gertrude keeps ________ Barry jobs.
a) to give
3. Barry works ________ the fence for days.
1. How does Barry feel at the beginning of the story?
2. How does Gertrude help him overcome his sorrow?
3. In your opinion, why is it important to be industrious?