Lao Tzu Explains Why You Should Enjoy the Journey (Why It's Okay Not to Have a Destination)

It's not uncommon for everything we have in mind to be a goal. Whether it's a trip, a sport or whatever. However, it is important to also enjoy the journey and not only the arrival, respectively the completion of a plan, let alone a plan per se.

“A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.”

- Lao Tzu

We, as people of the 21st century, are trained to have a goal to fulfill. If we are in elementary school, we want to go to secondary school, once there we want to do an apprenticeship or study, once we have completed this, we want to hold our own in a job, once in a job we want to move up and make a career. So we are constantly on the verge of achieving something, but before we have reached our goal, we are already forming the next one.

Alan Watts once put it very nicely. He told us that this way of living only gagging and no vomiting be - that is, without ever experiencing relief. You just can't get to a destination, but you always have one in mind. And that only leads to dissatisfaction.

When was the last time you went for a walk just for the sake of it? Not to clear your head, not to move and use your body after a day at the PC, not to get to a place and not to enjoy the nice weather. Quite simple and just a walk for the sake of walking.

The walk serves here only as a single example, this question can be asked with many "occupations".

Lao Tzu saw over 2000 years ago that most people need an intention to act. But he also noticed that the action loses its meaning as soon as one carries it out to achieve his goal. All the aesthetics and lightness is lost in these purposeful activities.

When you dance, you don't put one leg in front of the other because it has to make sense, but because it feels right. But that's exactly how it should be in all aspects of our lives, simply enjoying the journey and not calculating every four steps how far it is to the destination.

Simply put, not every action needs a goal. But even the actions that have a goal should not only be carried out purposefully. It is very difficult to enjoy the process of the way, if one hardly perceives the way, if one does not have his eyes open, for that, that lies left and right beside the way. We are virtually blind to everything that is not in the center of our vision and that is over 99% of what we will see in our lives.

Alan Watts has come up with a nice formulation for this as well, and we've already written a post about it: "Life is not a problem to be solved, it is an experience to be erleben sollte.“

The next time you realize you're too focused on a destination, remember that a good traveler has no set plans and is not anxious to arrive.

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