“The journey is the reward.” ~Chinese Proverb
So much of our language about the things we enjoy in life revolves around getting ahead.
We wonder where our relationships are going. We plan to move forward in our careers. We talk about maintaining momentum with new projects.
None of these things are necessarily bad. We naturally crave growth to feel a sense of purpose and progress.
But sometimes we put so much energy into pushing and striving that we miss out on the joy of being where we are.
When we visualize ourselves taking a pause to fully absorb and appreciate our surroundings, it’s often after we’ve arrived. It’s when we’ve climbed the mountain and can finally stand proudly on its peak. It’s when we’ve made the commitment, secured the deal, or finished working on something we love.
From a purely mathematic standpoint, it’s clear we will have far fewer opportunities to enjoy arriving than we will have to enjoy the journey.
The question then becomes: Are we willing to relish in the many uncertain moments when we’re not sure yet where our efforts are leading?
I suspect it boils down to belief and intention.
If we believe we need to create massive change in order to experience joy, we will inevitably feel a sense of restlessness. This moment will feel like something we need to endure to get ahead—something painfully inadequate compared to where we’d rather be.
If we believe that every part of the process can be beautiful and joyful, we will feel a sense of calmness and peace. This moment will feel like something we need to savor while it lasts—something unique and worth celebrating, regardless of where it takes us.
We’re always going to want to spread our wings and fly. We crave freedom, adventure, and possibility, and we don’t want to feel stuck, bored, or limited.
Perhaps happiness is recognizing that we are never stuck. Even if we don’t recognize it, we are always growing and evolving, and the world we know is always changing.
There will never be another opportunity to seize the possibilities of this moment. We can limit ourselves by failing to recognize this, and in doing so, let life pass us by. Or we can realize the greatest adventure is always the one we’re in right now.
Photo by scion_cho