The Happiest Fisherman In The World

Back when I used to live in Shanghai I had a particular spot just outside the city that I would often go to just to get away and think. Whenever I was feeling overwhelmed or needed sometime to myself, I would take my electric scooter and venture the 15 minutes over to what I later claimed as my “thinking rock.” While I spent most of my time at my thinking rock pondering life’s questions or simply meditating, my thinking rock also provided hours upon hours of conversation with some of my closest friends, with subjects such as religion, purpose, and love being discussed. For just a rock, it really was a place in which I came find myself. Today I’d like to share with you a story of a moment that changed how I view the world. One weekend my friend (girlfriend at the time) and I were looking for something to do, so we ended heading over to my thinking rock to just sit outside and relax. Little did I know that moment would completely change how I looked at happiness. Right by my thinking rock there was a small canal that many of the local Chinese villagers would use to fish. It wasn’t the cleanest canal to be sure but many of the villagers used it as their source of food nonetheless. On this particular day while talking with my friend we happened to notice a Chinese couple wading in the water trying to catch a fish. It wasn’t long before my friend and I were both caught up watching the couple. While watching someone fish isn’t always the most entertaining, there was something about this couple that caught our eye. “Look at how happy they look” I said. To which my friend replied, ” I know, they look so peaceful.” After many failed attempts to catch a fish, their lucky finally struck and a few small fish ended up in their net. Now it’s safe to say most people are happy when then they catch a fish but this couple was nothing short of ecstatic. Upon catching the fish their faces lit up with an enormous smile and they gracefully embraced in a full body hug. ” Look at them smile” I said softy. “They must really love one another.” My friend answered. Seeing the fisherman and his wife so happy literally made me cry . Here I was living on the other side of the world watching two extremely poor Chinese villagers fish for what was most likely their dinner, but yet they were perhaps the happiest people in the world. Never before had I seen two people appreciate the present as much as they did. They were so engrossed in the process of fishing that they enjoyed every moment. They didn’t have time to worry about all their fears or insecurities or anything else that was going wrong in their life. They were focused on making the most out of that moment with one another and that in turn produced utter happiness. To this day I still recall the story in such vivid detail because it changed the way in which I viewed the world. So what can you take away from the happiest fisherman in the world? Here are 5 lessons you can apply to your life. Open Your Eyes: So often we just move from one activity to the next never appreciating what’s in front of us. Start to notice the people and places you take for granted. Be mindful of your surroundings and begin to see the world for the beautiful place it is. Realize that much of what you think you need is already right before your eyes. Are you open to what you have been given? Happiness Is Free: I realize this isn’t an original idea, so in respect to recycling I apologize, but so many people continue to forget that the best things in life are free. No amount of money will give you the experience of genuinely  living. Instead of thinking big, simply appreciate the small experiences that have made you who you are today. Go on a walk. Talk with a friend. Devour the experiences that make your soul sing. Appreciate The People You Love: Seeing the couple embrace was a really powerful reminder that we must appreciate those that we love. Often we take our friends and family for granted thinking that we can just fall back on the excuse of tomorrow, but the reality is tomorrow doesn’t always come. You don’t need to wait to say a simple “I love you.” You don’t need to wait to thank someone for all that they have done in your life. There’s nothing better than giving and receiving love. Everyone is Lucky: It doesn’t matter who you are or where you’re from you are lucky. You’re lucky to have a roof over your head. You’re lucky that you’re not worried about where to find your next meal. Even if you are struggling financially,  realize that you are still luckier than HALF the entire world. Happiness in your situation lies in how creative you can be. Whether you consider yourself fortunate or not you are lucky, don’t waste that luck. Be Present: Watching the couple reminded me how important it is to be present. The simple task of fishing was enough for them to really get the most out of life. Just observing them being present really had a profound affect on how I viewed the world. I remember how when watching them time literally slowed down. Being present is often difficult to do but I assure you the reward is well worth the effort. Here we are living in society of more-more-more, always trying to chase the next best thing. A bigger house, a faster car, all at the expense of forgetting whats important. Seeing the couple first hand made me ask for the first time in my life: What if we have it all wrong? What if our pursuit of happiness is misery in disguise? I’m not suggesting material things can’t make a person happy, but rather our reliance on them is what makes us miserable. It’s ironic  to think that watching a couple fish for 30 minutes changed my life forever. Yet one thing is inherently clear, it doesn’t take  loads of money or fame to make you happy. The truth of the matter is you’re richer than you think. Just ask the happiest fisherman in the world. What make you happy? How are you blessed? Please share in the comments below.

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