Finding Pride and Joy in the Journey of Life

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” – Ursula K. LeGuin

Too often, we live our lives from destination to destination. We look back and mark the significant accomplishments as the milestones that define our lives: a graduation, a new job, a move, or overcoming a tragedy. We look back with fondness and we look desperately forward to the completion of the next: the accomplishment of a life goal, a significant desired award, a major life transition, finding the love of our life, or emerging from one of life’s dark valleys triumphant.

Unfortunately, life is not lived exclusively in these destinations. In fact, it is far more often lived in the pathways between them. Consider the fact that these destination moments are few. But the journeys between them long. These moments between destinations are where we prepare ourselves – and are prepared – to accomplish the goal, to weather the storm, and to choose the next destination carefully.

But because we live in a results-oriented world, finding pride and joy during these moments between destinations is difficult, but absolutely essential.

Earlier this past school-year, my daughter walked into our living room carrying the book, Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss. I can still picture its distinct orange cover held against her body by her 5-year old arms. She climbed into my lap, asked if she could read to me, and began opening the front cover. With little hesitation, I agreed. It’s important to me that Alexa enjoys reading. And I looked forward to helping her through it.

Little did I know my help would not be needed. Using the sight words she had learned from her kindergarten teacher and simple steps to get through the tricky words (look at the picture, sound out the first letters, look for rhyming words), my daughter successfully navigated every single word in the book. Spoiler Alert: He ends up liking the green eggs and ham at the end.

When my daughter closed the back cover to the book, she looked at me with a huge sense of accomplishment. And when she did, she looked directly into the eyes of the only person smiling bigger than her. I can remember looking down with a feeling of pride I could never communicate with words. The compliments were genuine and the hug was sweet. My daughter was learning to read. She knew it. I knew it. And there was great joy to be found at this point in her knowledge.

Now, just to be clear, I know full-well her journey to become a reader is not complete. Green Eggs and Ham is hardly the highest piece of Literature she will learn to read… after all, Pinkalicious is right around the corner. And being able to sound out every word in a Dr. Seuss book is hardly the culmination of her education. I will still encourage her and challenge her to reach new heights and seek higher accomplishments.

But in this moment, at this time, overwhelming joy and pride were perfectly accurate responses. My daughter had grown much in her ability to read over the previous weeks and months. She had worked hard to reach this point. Her progress deserved to be celebrated. And she understood there was joy to be found in this journey.

Very likely, your life deserves far more celebration than you offer. After all, our lives are not measured by the leaps and bounds as much as they are measured by the little steps and decisions we make every day.

Keep striving forward to become a better person, a better parent, a better citizen, and a better contributor to the world around you. Strive for the great accomplishments that you and the world will use to define your life. But don’t be so quick to discount the progress you have already made. Because that’s where life is lived. And that’s where joy is to be found.

Joshua Becker

About Joshua Becker

Writer. Inspiring others to live more by owning less.
Bestselling author of Simplify & Clutterfree with Kids.

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Comments

  1. says

    “Strive for the great accomplishments that you and the world will use to define your life. But don’t be so quick to discount the progress you have already made. Because that’s where life is lived. And that’s where joy is to be found.”

    Great piece of advice. You might as well choose something important for a goal. Then live your life to enjoy the process of getting there.

  2. Jami says

    This made me wonder if the reason we always feel like life is moving too fast is because we spend so much focus on the destinations. Maybe if we savor the journey more, life won’t speed by. Thank you for this great post!

  3. Christa says

    This post put a smile on my face and made my day.
    I am teaching my twin 5 year olds to read right now, and that sense of joy in their accomplishment, is one of the most fulfilling feelings in the world to me.

  4. says

    In the chapter on success in “Live Your Why,” I advise people to define success accurately, celebrate success incrementally, and encourage success liberally because life is something to be shared. Authentic success is defined by the choices we get to make, not the possessions we get to keep. Your post is an accurate description of what success and accomplishment really are.

  5. Merly says

    Love your post. I have a 5 year old daughter has well who reading too. :)
    Love to see their accomplishments. Great feeling. Joy and Pride. It brings tears to our eyes.

  6. says

    Beautiful post. Thank you for all your work.

    Initially when I took on the journey to living better with less, I believed it was about the items that cluttered my life. I thought get rid of that stuff, junk, and I would be good to go.

    But it is so much more, so much more. I de-cluttered much of myself and I continue to do so on a daily basis. I concentrate on giving, being kind and I avoid negativity.

    Living has become so much easier and joyful. The journey is what you make it. Celebrate!

  7. says

    Celebrating progress is critical. So many of us spend so much time thinking about things that do not go right. It’s important to make a conscious effort to focus on things that go right — not just those where you have achieved perfection (they are too rare), but also those where you have made progress, as you said, no matter how small. Fantastic Joshua.
    Best regards,
    David

  8. Ryan Mitchell says

    Awesome. Became a dad on 5/10/12. This is incredibly inspirational and love filled.
    My wife and I read consistently to our daughter. Reading to children and assisting with their homework is essential and so important.
    Thank you for sharing.
    -Ryan

  9. Kerry says

    Thanks, I needed reminding to enjoy the life in-between the defining moments. Our family moves every 2-3 years due to the military. I constantly have my eyes set on the next move and hardly notice what’s happening in-between. Working on that.

  10. says

    Just wanted to let you know I’ve been following your blog and posting your quotes and comments on my “A Train Called Forgiveness” fan page on Facebook. I am also a strong believer in simplicity and minimalism although not always as successful at practicing it as I’d like to be. I actually have a site hipdiggs.com dedicated to small living, but have not had the time to keep it up. My main blog is http://www.danerickson.net. As for reading, my daughter is seven and has worked her way up to entire series’ such as “Little House on the Prairie,” and “Rachel Yoder.” It’s a wonderful journey.

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