Is it not easier to be happy when your wants are few?
Henry David Thoreau
A man would go to Walden Pond daily to catch fish. Unlike the other people who went to the same pond, this man did not use a boat. Instead, he sat by the edge of the pond and waited for the fish. Without fail, he would catch one and, here is the interesting bit, regardless of the size of the fish, he would pack up and leave. Daily.
It’s not as if he was antisocial. He would smile and acknowledge others but curiously, he maintained a routine or made an agreement with himself that as soon as he caught a fish, he would leave.
“So what’s with this guy?” I hear you asking.
Someone actually did ask Thoreau this question when he related this story in a lecture in March 1846. What did Thoreau say: Your answer is as good as mine.
Why did Thoreau choose to tell this story? What message was he hoping to convey?
Now, I am not necessarily claiming to answer these questions but here is what went through my mind as I read this story and as I wrote about it. It occurs to me that when a person makes a conscious choice about his/her actions and does so without attaching to a particular outcome, that person has established the conditions for his/her happiness.
In other words, regardless of the outcome, I am going to be happy, at peace.
There have been numerous times when I have felt disappointed, frustrated or very much a failure as a result of how things turned out. Sometimes, this would cause me to give up what I was doing. Other times, it would ensure that I did whatever I did with a degree of resentment. Neither of these left me feeling particularly happy or satisfied.
On the other hand, when I have done something motivated by the sheer joy and thrill of doing it, with little attachment to the outcome, I have not only enjoyed the ‘doing ’so much more, I have been far less influenced by the outcomes, rather like the man and his fish.
Why did he fish? Who knows. Your answer is as good as mine. But that he fished and accepted whatever fish he caught strikes me as the behavior and attitude of someone who knows how to be happy!
What do you think? Why did the man fish? Do you ‘fish’ like this man?
Lucy Lopez – Hire Me!