Skip to content
Advertisements

How to nurture a life of simpler happiness

Modern life looks complicated with many ties, but it needn’t be. This simple short story illustrates how a small problem can develop and overwhelm us.

—–

When I was in my thirties I lived for a year in a simple room in the country with few possessions and commitments. I enjoyed my simple life of walking, meditating, writing and peace. I had few possessions, just my clothes, some money to last the year and a few articles for writing.  

All was well, until one day I woke and noticed a hole in my only pair of trousers. Some investigation led me to believe that the hole was caused by a mouse nibbling through the material. To protect my trousers, I decided to get a cat to keep the mouse away.

However, the cat soon got hungry and needed feeding. Initially I just bought her some milk but I grew tired of walking to the shops, so I formed another plan; I should get a cow! Yes, a cow to provide the milk to feed the cat to keep the mouse away.

This idea though, provided complications.  The cat was more easily fed but the cow was more tricky. So out I went  to buy some cattle feed. Once again, this involved a walk to the shops and again, I soon grew tired or this chore. I needed a new plan. So I decided to buy a small field next to my house. The cow could then graze and I would have the milk to feed my cat to keep the mouse away.

However, the grass began to grow too long too fast and the field needed maintaining. Hmmm, I thought, I need a small tractor. If I had a tractor I could then cut the grass, so my cow could graze and I would have the milk to feed my cat to keep the mouse away.

Soon though, this plan proved problematic too, the tractor needed fuel.  The solution I chose was to sell some milk and some hay to buy the fuel.  The fuel for the tractor, so I could cut the grass, my cow could graze and I would have the milk to feed my cat to keep the mouse away.

My days by this time quite full, I was milking, mowing, selling the surplus, my trousers were without holes but I had little time for the simple life that I had enjoyed. If only I just bought a needle and thread and lived peacefully alongside the mouse.

—–

We make our lives so complicated by taking on more and more things that need care and attention in the false belief that they will bring us happiness. What we end up doing though, is becoming slaves to their maintenance or procurement. We just add another problem on top of other problems. The happiness is then ‘just around the corner’ but the corner never comes.

Choosing a simple life that does not add extra unnecessary responsibility seems far wiser. Cutting down on the things in our lives is one way to achieve this goal.

Enjoy!

Advertisements

34 Comments »

  1. I really like your blog. I feel like we sometimes get way too involved in the hustle and bustle of life that we end up drowning. Your blog helps me to remind us that we need to take ourselves out of the equation and just enjoy the moment. Thanks for writing this.

    Like

  2. I really like your blog. I feel like we sometimes get way too involved in the hustle and bustle of life that we end up drowning. Your blog helps me to remind us that we need to take ourselves out of the equation and just enjoy the moment. Thanks for writing this.

    Like

  3. I used to tell a story to the new RA’s we recruited to work in the halls of residence; I’d heard it at a conference on training staff while in the USA and it’s quite well known and it tries to make the same point –

    A boat docked in a tiny Greek village. An American tourist complimented the Greek fisherman who was resting in his boat on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took him to catch them.
    “Not very long,” answered the Fisherman.
    “Then, why didn’t you stay out longer and catch more?” asked the American.
    The Fisherman explained that his small catch was sufficient to meet his needs and those of his family.
    The American asked, “But what do you do with the rest of your time?”
    “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, and take a siesta with my wife. In the evenings I go into the village to see my friends, dance a little, drink a bit, and sing a few songs. I have a full life.” Said the Fisherman
    The American interrupted, “I am a businessman and have an MBA from Harvard and I can help you. You should start by fishing longer every day. You can then sell the extra fish you catch and with the revenue, you can buy a bigger boat.
    “What do I do then” asked the Fisherman?
    “With the extra money the larger boat will bring, you can buy a second one and a third one and so on until you have an entire fleet of trawlers. Instead of selling your fish to a middleman, you can negotiate directly with the processing plants and maybe even open your own plant” answered the Businessman.
    “What do I do then” asked the Fisherman?
    “You can then leave this little village and move to Athens, London or even New York City! From there you can direct your huge enterprise.”
    “How long would that take?” asked the Fisherman.
    “Twenty, perhaps twenty-five years,” replied the Businessman.
    “And then what happens then?” asked the Fisherman
    “That’s when it gets really interesting,” answered the Businessman, laughing. “When your business gets really big, you can start selling stocks and make millions!”
    “Millions? Really? And after that?” asked the Fisherman
    “After that you’ll be able to retire, live in a tiny village near the coast, sleep late, play with your grandchildren, catch a few fish, take a siesta with your wife, and spend your evenings singing, dancing, playing and drinking with your friends…”

    Like

  4. I used to tell a story to the new RA’s we recruited to work in the halls of residence; I’d heard it at a conference on training staff while in the USA and it’s quite well known and it tries to make the same point –

    A boat docked in a tiny Greek village. An American tourist complimented the Greek fisherman who was resting in his boat on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took him to catch them.
    “Not very long,” answered the Fisherman.
    “Then, why didn’t you stay out longer and catch more?” asked the American.
    The Fisherman explained that his small catch was sufficient to meet his needs and those of his family.
    The American asked, “But what do you do with the rest of your time?”
    “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, and take a siesta with my wife. In the evenings I go into the village to see my friends, dance a little, drink a bit, and sing a few songs. I have a full life.” Said the Fisherman
    The American interrupted, “I am a businessman and have an MBA from Harvard and I can help you. You should start by fishing longer every day. You can then sell the extra fish you catch and with the revenue, you can buy a bigger boat.
    “What do I do then” asked the Fisherman?
    “With the extra money the larger boat will bring, you can buy a second one and a third one and so on until you have an entire fleet of trawlers. Instead of selling your fish to a middleman, you can negotiate directly with the processing plants and maybe even open your own plant” answered the Businessman.
    “What do I do then” asked the Fisherman?
    “You can then leave this little village and move to Athens, London or even New York City! From there you can direct your huge enterprise.”
    “How long would that take?” asked the Fisherman.
    “Twenty, perhaps twenty-five years,” replied the Businessman.
    “And then what happens then?” asked the Fisherman
    “That’s when it gets really interesting,” answered the Businessman, laughing. “When your business gets really big, you can start selling stocks and make millions!”
    “Millions? Really? And after that?” asked the Fisherman
    “After that you’ll be able to retire, live in a tiny village near the coast, sleep late, play with your grandchildren, catch a few fish, take a siesta with your wife, and spend your evenings singing, dancing, playing and drinking with your friends…”

    Like

    • A bit more background, I based my version on the tale that was given in a book and various dharma talks by Ajahn Brahm, who likely adapted it from his teacher Ajahn Chah. I will add a link to the book.

      Like

    • A bit more background, I based my version on the tale that was given in a book and various dharma talks by Ajahn Brahm, who likely adapted it from his teacher Ajahn Chah. I will add a link to the book.

      Like

  5. “We make our lives so complicated by taking on more and more things that need care and attention in the false belief that they will bring us happiness.” –

    interestingly, this quote made me think of a task I have in helping a mentally ill relative. I’ve always expected him to do the impossible and participate in his own care even if grudgingly (as a return I wonder?). I shall release that expectation (thought disordered people cannot really think rationally enough to participate anyway) and will add purposeful letting go to each day, returning to the compassionate helping that is the only requirement for my action. Thank you.

    Like

    • That is so very touching to hear, I am sure you are a wonderful carer as your introspection highlights. Its really meaningful to me to receive this comment. thannk-you again 🙂

      Like

  6. “We make our lives so complicated by taking on more and more things that need care and attention in the false belief that they will bring us happiness.” –

    interestingly, this quote made me think of a task I have in helping a mentally ill relative. I’ve always expected him to do the impossible and participate in his own care even if grudgingly (as a return I wonder?). I shall release that expectation (thought disordered people cannot really think rationally enough to participate anyway) and will add purposeful letting go to each day, returning to the compassionate helping that is the only requirement for my action. Thank you.

    Like

    • That is so very touching to hear, I am sure you are a wonderful carer as your introspection highlights. Its really meaningful to me to receive this comment. thannk-you again 🙂

      Like

  7. So many things I want to share in this comment! Firstly to say I share the quest to live a simple life with the responsibilities of family and earning a living. I’m finding my path slowly along the middle way. Thank you for your insights. Secondly, I have recently come across so many teachings by Ajanh Chah. They really seem to hit home for me. Thank you for sharing this one!

    Like

  8. So many things I want to share in this comment! Firstly to say I share the quest to live a simple life with the responsibilities of family and earning a living. I’m finding my path slowly along the middle way. Thank you for your insights. Secondly, I have recently come across so many teachings by Ajanh Chah. They really seem to hit home for me. Thank you for sharing this one!

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: