Audiobooks and Podcasts, My Minimalism Journey, Quality of Life

Soulful Simplicity and the Mexican Fisherman

What does the phrase “Soulful Simplicity” mean to you?

The last several months I’ve listening to some awesome audiobooks from my public library while I go on daily walks, sew, or do errands. I plan to share highlights from the audiobooks in upcoming posts and I thought I would begin with my current listen: Soulful Simplicity: How Living With Less Can Lead to So Much More by Courtney Carver.

Screen Shot 2018-07-14 at 7.22.34 PM
image credit: Amazon

Here is the summary of the book on on the Deschutes Public Library website:

Courtney Carver shows us the power of simplicity to improve our health, build more meaningful relationships, and relieve stress in our professional and personal lives. We are often on a quest for more, giving in to pressure every day to work more, own more, and do more. For Courtney Carver, this constant striving had to come to a stop when she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Stress was like gasoline on the fire of her symptoms, and it became clear that she needed to root out the physical and psychological clutter that were the source of her debt and discontent.

In this book, Carver shows us how to pursue practical minimalism so we can create more with less-more space, more time, and even more love. She invites us to look at the big picture, discover what’s most important to us, and reclaim lightness and ease by getting rid of all the excess things.

The audiobook is read by the author (which always adds a high degree of authenticity to the listening for me) and focuses on “being more with less“.

I am 2/3rds through the audiobook and wanted share one of my favorite stories (that the author shares in her book) about what really matters in life. As the author states, there are many versions of this story. Here is the version from her website: Be More With Less.


The Mexican Fisherman

An American investment banker was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one Mexican fisherman docked.  Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna.  The American complimented the fisherman on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.

The fisherman replied, “only a little while”. The American then asked why didn’t he stay out longer and catch more fish? The Mexican said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs. The American then asked, “but what do you do with the rest of your time?”

The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siestas with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine, and play guitar with my amigos.  I have a full and busy life.”

The American scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat, you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing, and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually New York City, where you will run your expanding enterprise.”

The Mexican fisherman asked, “But, how long will this all take?”

To which the American replied, “15 – 20 years.”

“But what then?” asked the fisherman.

The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part.  When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions!”

“Millions – then what?”

The American said, “Then you would retire.  Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siestas with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”


In the version I heard many years ago, the Mexican fisherman states at the end of the story: “Why would I go through all that to get what I already have?

The first time I heard this story it deeply resonated with me. As I have discussed in my series of posts on My Minimalism Journey, I’ve been working on appreciating and enjoying the life I have; taking care of my physical, emotional and spiritual health; and curating my possessions to only those things I truly love (but darn it, I love all my crafting books and magazines!)

In my pay-the-bills health care job, I’ve been offered the opportunity to attend my employer’s leadership track nine-month program to move into a leadership position. I declined the opportunity as although it would be more money, it would be much less time doing the things I love such as blogging, crafting, spending time with my husband and dog, enjoying nature, etc., etc., etc.

I am already happy with my job, salary and work schedule. I do not need to climb the “corporate ladder” to become happier.

Actually I think climbing the corporate ladder at this point in my life would be the path to less happiness as I remember a lot of stress in my life when I was previously in leadership for 8 – 9 years.

Terry the Quilting Husband (TTQH) fully supports this decision as he remembers his very stressed wife during her years in a leadership role.

I am quite content in my life’s version of a “little fishing village”.

Fear less, hope more; Eat less, chew more; Whine less, breathe more; Talk less, say more; Love more, and all good things will be yours! – Swedish Proverb


Feature photo credit: Johanna Ljungblom

27 thoughts on “Soulful Simplicity and the Mexican Fisherman”

  1. You are a source for great reading…among other things! Good for you for choosing quality time over quantity (salary increase). I chose not to go the administration route in education. This would have been more money, but it would also have taken me away from my purpose for becoming a teacher. My focus was on helping students to become life long learners. I took on non-paying leadership roles in my school and on my grade level team since this was one way to have more input with students outside of my classroom.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Why thank you! Oh think of all the kids that would have missed out having you as a teacher if you went into administration. I bet you’ve touched more lives than you can every realize 🙂

      Like

  2. Nice 2 books I reckon. The fisherman one is clever! The first one sounds like the Mindfulness magazines I currently enjoy – In the Moment and The Simple Things. I think life has a habit of running too fast and we all need to slow down before we miss it!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I loved reading the Mexican Fisherman story! Right away I related to the fisherman. Being mindful of what we strive for in life makes all the difference.
    I admire your decision, extra money is not worth any sacrifice to your well being.
    Thanks for sharing.

    Like

  4. A WORTHY READ AS I AM TRYING TO DECLUTTER AND GET BY WITH LESS. I WILL TAKE A TRIP TO MY LIBRARY AND SEE IF ITS AVAILABLE. THANK YOU FOR THE GREAT RECOMMENDATION.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks for sharing this reflection, Tierney. 🙂 It always helps to be reminded of the good things that are available to be enjoyed right now (the only moment we have). I’m glad to read that you chose and are enjoying the less-stress life. As my MD once told me (unsolicited!) “Health is wealth.” 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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