Over the last few years, I’ve come to realize that in life what matters most is the journey rather than the destination. I came to this conclusion after I’d spent a long time looking at where I wanted to end up, only to miss what was going on around me in the moment.
That wouldn’t be so bad were it not for the fact that I was also spending a lot of time being unhappy about where I was in relation to where I wanted to be. In becoming more goal-oriented, I lost sight of the process. In focusing on my destination, I could no longer identify with the journey itself.
A few weeks ago, I was talking with my kids about how much fun it was back in Canada when I’d get up early in the morning, get on my motorcycle and just ride in whatever direction my mood took me. Those trips had no destination. The only thing that mattered was the journey itself. Because of that, I tended to be fully in the moment for long periods of time.
In looking back at that period, it struck me that you can’t expect to wind up at a happy destination if you’ve had an unhappy journey. Our life is one of creation, with our current thoughts paving the way for the reality we’ll experience in our future. If we’re constantly living an unhappy journey, there’s no chance for us to end up at a happy destination because those thoughts along the way quite literally make the destination what it is. Unhappy thought patterns now necessarily create unhappy experiences down the road.
What matters most, then, is to create a happy destination (or stopover point, assuming that we’re nowhere near our final resting place!) through focusing on having the best possible journey along the way. If we look at life as being similar to a family road trip, the best vacations are those where the mood in the car is light and joyful. If the ride itself is replete with bickering and moody silences, the destination mirrors that. Right? It’s in everybody’s best interest, therefore, to concentrate on whatever brings a smile in any particular moment.
You always have a choice of whether to be happy or sad, contented or angry, congenial or offended/offensive. Those choices you make define each moment you experience. If you find yourself leaning towards an unhappy reaction, try to stop for a moment and just let the moment pass. Find something else to occupy your attention that will shift the focus to something that leads you towards happiness.
The more moments of happiness you can cultivate in the Now, the more stopovers you’ll enjoy along the way to your final destination. And if you get it right often enough, you’ll sign off with a happy sigh and the realization that you’ve really got no regrets to take with you as baggage in your transition to the next phase.
That, I think, is worthy of deep thought. And maybe even a smile.