The Pursuit of Happiness

Perhaps you have all heard this story. It came as delightful news to me, given my recent posts on the subject of “the pursuit of happiness”. But then… I don’t get around much.

The story goes….

A foreign tourist and his wife were enjoying a stroll early one sunny morning along a beautiful beach in Mexico when they came across a Mexican fisherman sitting in front of his humble home, his back propped against his fishing boat enjoying the day, the view, and the occasional siesta.

Let’s say, for the sake of narrative realism, that the beach town is named Puerto Escondido

Puerto Escondido

Puerto Escondido

Now, the foreign tourist was a hard-working, industrious man with “a strong work ethic”, as they say. And the sight of this apparently lazy Mexican fisherman enjoying himself and the day got the foreign tourist’s back and dander up with resentment. “Look at that lazy Mexican!” cried The Hard-Working-Industrious-Tourist-With-The-Strong-Work-Ethic, turning to his wife. “I’m going to have a talk with him.”

So, The Hard-Working-Industrious-Tourist-With-The-Strong-Work-Ethic decided he would approach the lazy Mexican and give him a piece of his mind along with a valuable lecture on the work ethic, although he would put on a good-intentioned, friendly, diplomatic mask for the sake of maintaining decent international relations.

“Why aren’t you out fishing?” asked The Hard-Working-Industrious-Tourist-With-The-Strong-Work-Ethic with feigned joviality.

“I have already been out fishing, Señor. I have already cleaned and sold my fish in the market early this morning,” replied the fisherman.

“But it is still early in the day! You could still put out to sea and be catching even more fish,” The Hard-Working-Industrious-Tourist-With-The-Strong-Work-Ethic responded.

“But I have caught all the fish I need for today, Señor. Why would I want to catch more fish?” queried the puzzled Mexican fisherman.

Fishing boat

At this The Hard-Working-Industrious-Tourist-With-The-Strong-Work-Ethic (who also suffered from stress-related disorders of the mind and body and occasional depression) felt something like tension rising in himself. But keeping his mask of paternal and diplomatic friendliness in place The Hard-Working-Industrious-Tourist-With-The-Strong-Work-Ethic (who also suffered from stress-related disorders of the mind and body and occasional depression) simply replied, “Why, so you can make more money, of course!”

“Why would I want more money, Señor?”

At this, The Hard-Working-Industrious-Tourist-With-The-Strong-Work-Ethic (who also suffered from stress-related disorders of the mind and body and occasional depression), could hardly believe his ears. Not only was the Mexican man lazy, he was apparently also a simpleton and an imbecile completely lacking in sense. Trying to suppress a nervous tic now starting to develop around the corners of his mouth he almost hissed the words out “So you could buy another fishing boat and catch even more fish and make even more money in the market.”

At this a look of perplexity came over the face of the apparently lazy Mexican fisherman who had no common sense, and he answered, “Why would I want to make more money, Señor?”

At this response, The Hard-Working-Industrious-Tourist-With-The-Strong-Work-Ethic (who also suffered from stress-related disorders of the mind and body and occasional depression) became almost apoplectic, and barely suppressing his rising contempt and his involuntary nervous tic as he stared at the “moron”,  and struggling to maintain his diplomatic mask of composure for the sake of good international relations, he almost shouted out the words: “So you could retire, buy a house on the beach, and spend your time resting, relaxing and enjoying life!”

And The Hard-Working-Industrious-Tourist-With-The-Strong-Work-Ethic (who also suffered from stress-related disorders of the mind and body and occasional depression) stormed away kicking sand about himself with his feet (and into his own eyes) as he returned to his wife, who had waited patiently while her husband had given the moron a lecture on the pursuit of happiness and the work ethic.

End of story.

Why is this such a grand fable about the growth economy and the pursuit of happiness?

Eckhart Tolle, author of The Power of Now, once said that before he became a public figure after the publication of his book, he used to sit in the coffee shops in Vancouver. Other patrons would often come up to him and say “I want what you have”, at which Tolle would answer, “You already have it. You just don’t know it”.

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2 responses to “The Pursuit of Happiness”

  1. Scott Preston says :

    LOL! Call it Kismet or something, but the day after I publish this article, The Guadian has an interactive map of depression around the world, and as you can see, Mexico (surprisingly) is extremely low in clinical diagnoses of depression, North America (and most other places) are around the middle of the pack, and (not surprisingly) regions where conflict is high are extremely high in depression,

    http://www.theguardian.com/society/datablog/2013/nov/08/where-world-people-most-depressed#

    Oddly enough, depression (and one must assume anxiety also) is very low in China, Mexico, Japan, and Australia according to this survey.

    • LittleBigMan says :

      That “The Hard-Working-Industrious-Tourist-With-The-Strong-Work-Ethic” attitude seems to be oozing out of everyone I know around here 🙂

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