“It is better to travel well than to arrive.” –Buddah
The culture of western civilization focuses heavily on money and success, causing many people to become so obsessed with arriving that they fail to enjoy the journey.
So how do you enjoy the journey? The first thing to do is to think about what your “destination” is—because your desired destination can greatly affect your journey.
1.) Having long-term goals
Having long-term goals is important. Otherwise, you may find yourself running and running towards the “finish line,” until one day you don’t even know what you’re running towards anymore. That is one of the quickest ways to be sapped of all your zeal and motivation. Thus, having goals for the future helps to motivate you: it gives you purpose, and it enriches your life. But don’t wrap all of your contentment and happiness over achieving this goal, because believe it or not, sometimes you don’t get want you want in life even if you work extremely hard for it. So if you don’t reach your goal–don’t despair. The journey you took towards your goal made you who you are. No one can predict or fully control their final “destination,” so stop over-worrying about it, and learn to enjoy the journey.
2.) Be careful what your long-term goals are
If your long-term goals are to “make a lot of money,” then your destination is solely materialistically based. If your long-term goal is to “be really good at ____” or “be the best at ___,” then your destination is based on personal gain only. Will the journey towards being rich or the best at something truly fulfill you? Working towards success or materialism for selfish reasons will make for a painstaking journey and an unfulfilling destination. So what would make it easier for you to be content and happy along your journey of life? Living for something bigger than yourself. Living a life of meaning will have a much more fulfilling journey, with an extremely rewarding destination.
So why would a journey towards money or success be so unfulfilling? I’ll break it down into three simple categories.
The Pleasant Life
This is enjoying the pleasures of life. Being comfortable, content, and having fun. This can include many things: leisure activities, laughing, enjoying the moment, going shopping, being social. This sounds great, doesn’t it? Well believe it or not, people who only fit into this category are not the happiest. In fact, they may even feel like there is a void in their life. If your ultimate goal is solely to make a lot of money or enjoy the pleasantries of life, then this is the category that you’re working towards.
The Good Life
This is the life in which you have a passion: you get lost in the moment when you engage in doing what you love. You feel accomplished at something, you enjoy it, and you’re good at it. If your ultimate goal is to develop and enjoy a skill, then this is the category that you’re working towards.
The Meaningful Life
This is the life in which you live for a purpose beyond yourself. This doesn’t mean that you have to discover the cure for cancer or create a new charity. It simply means that you live for others rather than for just yourself, and for a purpose bigger than just enjoying the pleasantries of life or being fully engaged in your work.
You may have already guessed it, but those who feel they live “the meaningful life” tend to feel more fulfilled than those who live “the good life,” and they tend to feel more fulfilled than those who live the “pleasant life.” Those who live all three are the most happy and fulfilled. Note: living a “pleasant” or “good” life is not necessarily selfish. For some people it may be, but for others it’s not.
If right now you don’t feel like you live “the meaningful life”—that does not mean that you’re a failure. “The meaningful life” is something to work towards, and it’s something to keep in mind whenever you may feel sapped of motivation and zeal. Ask yourself: “Am I living a meaningful life?” And if the answer is “no,” then that can be something to work towards. Perhaps, even, “the meaningful life” is your chosen destination. Having that as your goal already makes your life more meaningful: enjoy the ride there!
Next week’s topic: Living in the present moment
Photo credit: [hikeformentalhealth.org, http://www.facebook.com/bodhisurfschool/posts/324958834271671, http://mallzee.blogspot.com/2012/08/the-power-of-shopping-with-friends.html, gogreenatonce.org, safasc.wordpress.org]