Seeking joy

Have you heard the one about the fisherman and the businessman?

The way it goes is the businessman asks, “How long does it take to catch the fish you need for the day?”

The fisherman replies, “Not long.”

Businessman asks, “Why don’t you stay out longer to catch more?”

The fisherman, “I only catch what me and my family need for the day. The rest of the time is spent hanging out, playing with my kids, reading books, taking naps…”

The business man goes on to list all of his credentials and how he could help this fisherman grow his enterprise. That if he could spend more time on the water eventually he could save enough to buy a bigger boat to catch more fish. Then you could buy more boats and then set up an office to manage it.

The fisherman then asks, “Then what?”

The businessman, “You can retire and spend time with your family.”

The fisherman, “Isn’t that what I am doing now?”

Marshall Sahlins argued that the typical hunter gather only worked three to five hours per day. So different from what we imagine. What did they do with the rest of their time?

They spent the time doing everything we dream about doing.

The answer isn’t always bigger or more but just enough. You can choose what to maximize. Most of us choose money because it is easy to measure. You could choose other metrics.

US satisfaction is at 13%. Not surprising with the year we have been through. However, Pew Research survey asked about the secret to happiness, most Americans, of all ages, ranked “a job or career they enjoy” above marriage, children, or any other committed relationship.

Perhaps, we need to reexamine what makes us happy. Because once we can redefine joy, we will see it is abundant.