Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Focus on Direction rather than Speed

Helpful Hints from Harmony

Life is Good When You Live in Harmony

 (A word of explanation: I live in a little place called Harmony, Florida, where life is a bit slower and nature is right outside our door. I’m also familiar with another Harmony, which isn’t a place at all but a way of being. This year I’d like to share 12 simple lessons I’ve learned from my time in Harmony.)

 Hint #4:  Focus on Direction Rather than Speed.

When it comes to road trips and living with joy and fulfillment, an average compass is more valuable than a superior speedometer.

Nothing is more disheartening on a road trip than getting lost.   I can clearly recall the frustration of getting disoriented or “turned around” in some cities, and how vulnerable and stupid I felt in those moments.  Nothing seemed to make sense and every move I made seemed to create more confusion.
Getting lost in the journey of life is like that.  On those occasions when I lost my sense of direction and purpose, the world seemed gray and every turn seemed to take me nowhere.  I felt insecure and I worried that others could easily take advantage of me.  Until I got my bearings, life was a blur and all progress stopped.

That’s why one of the keys to a successful life is getting clear about where we are and where we should be going.  Stephen R. Covey described this as making sure our ladder is leaning against the right wall.  “If the ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step we take just gets us to the wrong place faster.”
Then we must periodically confirm that the way we are going is taking us toward our vision and dreams.  We need to check our compass from time to time and adjust our path.  Otherwise, as Lao Tzu warned, “if you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.”

As long as we are moving forward on the right trail, it is seldom helpful to stew about the pace. 
I have to admit that I have spoiled many a family trip over the years by obsessing over how quickly we were “getting there.” 

“No, we can’t stop and see that.  If we do, we’ll never get there.”

“Yes, I’m sure that would be interesting, but it’s a bit out of the way.”

“I know you’re hungry but we have just a couple of hours before we get to our hotel.”
At this stage of my life, I try to remember that worrying over velocity is a happiness-inhibitor.  That’s because the joy is in the journey, not in “arriving” and absolutely NOT in arriving sooner. 

The truth is we never do arrive — at least not in this life. Happiness is a direction, not a place.  The renowned American jurist Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. observed, “The greatest thing in this world is not so much where we are, but in what direction we are moving.”  
As we journey through life, we will reach meaningful milestones from time to time.  Reaching them re-energizes us and helps us appreciate our progress. We should celebrate those moments but we must resist the temptation to camp there, thinking we’ve reached the end of the road.  I’ve met people who’ve never moved beyond the day they were homecoming queen or captain of the high school football team.   

So while speed doesn’t matter, movement does.  The essence of life is movement.  Helen Keller said, “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”  The minute we throw away our compass and decide that life holds no further adventure for us, we are doomed by our own self-fulfilling prophesy.  We condemn ourselves to a dull and adventure-less existence. “If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine.  It is lethal.”  Paulo Coelho.
As for myself, I intend to enjoy the journey and relish the adventure. I intend to love my fellow travelers and help them in any way I can.  I intend to consult my compass from time to time and move steadily in the direction of my dreams. 

I intend to stay alive my entire life.
Thus will I arrive fully prepared for the great adventure that lies beyond.