What You Can Learn About Happiness From This Mexican Fisherman.

the mexican fisherman story

Do you love money?

More importantly, does money have more control over you than you have of it?

If so, you aren’t alone.

In fact, you are in good company with yours truly

There was a period in my life when money controlled my decisions, controlled my daily routines, and controlled my happiness…

I traded everything for money such as:

  • Friendships.
  • Freedom.
  • Family.

It makes me sad knowing how much I sacrificed just to make more money (that I had no real plan for – I just knew I wanted more money).

I can still recall one period in my life when I would check my Charles Schwab account 7-10 times per day… Just to see what slight changes were happening each day with my stocks and 401k…

High On Money

If I made money for the day, I ended the day on a high note.

If I lost money for the day, I went home angry and depressed.

Looking back, it was incredibly sad how money was controlling my life.

So when I came across the parable of the Mexican Fisherman a few years ago, it really hit home for me.

In many ways, I was just like the Wall Street banker who was always trying to find ways to make more money, when I should have been more like the wise fisherman who could see the big picture (his purpose in life) much clearer.

Many times in life you already have everything you need, yet we continue to sabotage ourselves by working hard to end up right back where we already are. Many times with little to show for it except wrinkles and gray hair…

This powerful story also helped me slow down to ask important things such as:

  • What’s the ultimate goal (aka “begin with the end in mind”)?
  • Will this really make me happy long term (fulfilled)?
  • Is there an easier and less stressful way to accomplish the same goal?

In all cases, there was a clear answer. I just had to look for it…

Enjoy the story of the Mexican fisherman and the Wall Street banker.

The Mexican Fisherman

the mexican fisherman story

(originally told by Heinrich Boll)

An American investment banker from Wall Street was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small old boat with just one fisherman came up and docked next to him.

Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna and two mahi-mahi.

The American banker complimented the Mexican fisherman on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.

The Mexican replied, “Not very long.”

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 pretty full and busy life.”

The American scoffed at this reply and proudly said, “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you make a whole lot more money.”

“Here’s what you should do…” continued the banker.

“You should spend a whole lot more time fishing so you can sell more fish. And with the proceeds, you can 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.

Eventually, 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, “Probably 15 – 20 years.”

“But what then?” asked the Mexican.

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


What an awesome reminder to always slow down in life and make sure you can see the big picture that you are working towards.

So many times I have been guilty of working myself to death in order to hit some financial goal that really didn’t fit into my main mission in life.

Have you ever felt like this?

If so, I highly encourage you to read the book, Fishing For Happiness.

It’s a one-of-a-kind book that is the absolute best parts from 300 of the top books on self-help, personal development, success, money, and God.

Think of it like the “Ultimate cheat sheet to happiness and fulfillment from top experts over the last 100 years.”

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  • Carl Shepherd
    Posted at 14:12h, 28 April Reply

    Great story Joe, If you haven’t heard it listen to Kenny Chesney’s song “The Life” pretty much same story put to music. Tight lines!

    • Joe Simonds
      Posted at 14:15h, 28 April Reply

      Yes sir! I went and listened to it today. Awesome song. Thanks for taking the time to read Carl. Tight Lines!

  • Richard Scarabin
    Posted at 14:56h, 28 April Reply

    That’s Awesome! I’m a charter fisherman & that actually give me chills! I’ll have a little different outlook on life after reading this. Thanks for sharing Joe!

    • Joe Simonds
      Posted at 18:02h, 28 April Reply

      Good stuff Richard! It was pretty impactful for me as well. Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment. Tight Lines!

  • Roger Jeffery
    Posted at 13:37h, 01 May Reply

    Loved it!

  • Stephen Cowart
    Posted at 03:22h, 02 May Reply

    Top notch!!! Very good read and very good meaning. Sad that the vast majority of people ( myself included ) become a slave to the grind!!! At almost 41 years old and 3 kids raised later, I still find myself sometimes slipping deeper and deeper into this same “.rat race”. The same materialistic life that a lot of us live always trying to keep up with the times and the best and nicest things when we already have the one main and only thing we need being life itself. Thanks for the post and once again reopening my eyes to an already known fact that I constantly look over.

    • Joe Simonds
      Posted at 20:35h, 03 May Reply

      Thanks for sharing Stephen! Awesome insight man.

  • How To Discover Your WHY In Life
    Posted at 21:06h, 02 May Reply

    […] just ten years ago I would have no idea how to respond (I probably would have said my why is to make money because that is all I was focused on at the […]

  • Matt Ewing
    Posted at 21:45h, 02 May Reply

    Heard Roger Jokela sing “Sleep late and Fish a little” in Key West. Same story, dont know if he was the first but list it
    as his origanal. Bought the cd on site, wish I could find a link too it

  • Jennifer carver
    Posted at 14:27h, 06 May Reply

    Very insightful story. Exactly my thoughts and how I feel. So powerful. So true. After being single for so long and I mean YEARS as my focus has been my child. I’m ready for this lifestyle. My son is graduating in a couple of weeks then college and I am ready to live my life happy and simple. I’m not chasing the dollar. I’m going to enjoy time. The one thing you can ever get back ❤️

    • Joe Simonds
      Posted at 20:37h, 07 May Reply

      Love it! Thanks for sharing Jennifer.

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