I found this anonymously-written story quoted in the book "Life 2.0" by Rich Karlgaard:
An American businessman was at a pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.
The Mexican replied that it took only a little while. The American then asked why he hadn't stayed out longer and caught 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 siesta 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, senor."
The American scoffed, "I am a Harvard M.B.A. 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 L.A. and eventually New York City, where you will run your expanding enterprise."
The Mexican fisherman asked, "But senor, how long will this take?" The American replied, "Fifteen or twenty years."
"But what then, senor?" asked the Mexican.
The American laughed and said, "That's the best part. When the time is right, you would announce an IPO, sell your company stock to the public, and become very rich. You would make millions."
"Millions, senor? 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 siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos."
Doesn't that say a lot? All this work- for WHAT? I have noticed a troubling fact for our generation, the thirty-somethings. Even with good salaries, our money doesn't buy much these days. Housing costs are so high, we must live like we did as college students, despite having worked so hard to get where we are now. Some are fed up with that lifestyle, and looking for a little more luxury, have embraced the long-hour, long-commute workstyle- they are sick of living like students and are working their butts off in order to get ahead. But what does this lead to? Bad health, broken marriages, and messed-up kids.
There is a life that enhances marriages (think: siestas with Maria), helps kids to thrive, and brings a lighthearted happiness to each day. It is the Good Life. It seems you can choose between the Corporate Capitalist Life of Misery, or the Good Life. I have observed both in action, experienced the former this past month, and I prefer the latter, the Good Life. The Corporate Capitalist Life of Misery involves some or all of these things: living in a big city where the high-flier, high-status jobs are; having a nice house, a newish car, a long commute, long hours at work (barely being home in time to tuck your kids in bed), kids in private schools, tropical vacations, designer sunglasses, and a country club membership. The end result of this life is burnout and poor health, divorce, and kids who live with your ex-spouse a long distance away from you and are an emotional mess.
The Good Life involves time, long stretches of time. I have found that it takes long stretches of time to achieve the kind of lighthearted playfulness that allows you to tackle with your kids on the living room floor and have so much fun that you'll always be connected emotionally and your kids will grow up emotionally stable and balanced. The Good Life involves time to bake a pumpkin pie; time to shop for and cook healthy, organic meals; time to take a walk with your family after dinner; time to watch a video, all four of you snuggled up together on the couch; working close enough to home to be able to come home for lunch and fool around with your wife while the kids are at school; time to play ball with your child at the park; driving a less-flashy car; living in a small house that can feel like a shoebox; $20 sunglasses; roadtrip vacations instead of Cancun; sending your kids to a free charter school; and a mellower job. It leads in the end to good health and a long life; a happy, warm, fulfilling marriage with the love of your youth; and balanced, stable kids who live with you (wow, what a concept) and make you proud. Which do you choose?