One of the most overused expressions is the following: “the journey matters more than the destination”. Don’t get me wrong I wholeheartedly believe in this principle. The problem is it’s been thrown around so much, to the point it has become somewhat of a cliché. It wasn’t until I read the following passage from the novel The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff that I fully internalized this concept.
“The honey doesn’t taste as good once it is being eaten; the goal doesn’t mean so much once it is reached; the reward is not so rewarding once it has been given. If we add up all the rewards in our lives, we won’t have very much. But if we add up the spaces between the rewards, we’ll come up with quite a bit. And if we add up the rewards and the spaces, then we’ll have everything.”
Now let’s break this down. I’ll examine the rewards as well as the spaces between the rewards.
A “reward” can be something we hope to receive as a result of hard work. Examples include receiving a job promotion, making the varsity basketball team, or winning the Noble Peace Prize. But there’s another type of reward. Rewards can also be things we quite simply look forward to. This can include such things as a party, a long awaited vacation, Christmas Day, the debut of Jay-Z’s new album, or the Super Bowl.
When it comes to rewards, especially things we don’t have to work towards, we focus on the actual event. That’s a shame considering these “rewards” make up only a small portion of our lives. This is where the “spaces” component comes into play.
“Spaces Between the Rewards”
Think of “spaces” as everything except the actual thing you’re looking forward to. In many instances the spaces can be the anticipation for what’s to come. There are countless examples. The tailgate before the big game, the day before Christmas, or the car ride to the party. I’d imagine in hindsight fond memories were made. But did you appreciate those moments as they were occurring, or were you too focused on the actual event?
What’s important to realize is the reward is not always what we expect it to be. Sometimes it’s exactly what we expect and we’re thrilled as a result. But there are other times we are extremely disappointed by the reward. Perhaps the party you were looking forward to turned out to be a complete bust. But the fact you were looking forward it, had spent time talking about it with your friends, and had blasted you’re favorite music on the way there must mean the whole ordeal couldn’t have been an entire bust.
Regardless of the rewards we receive in our lives, whether through hard work or upcoming events, make sure to recognize the beauty that lies in the anticipation. The anticipation is consistently pleasurable, while the reward — well, that isn’t always the case. Therefore recognize the anticipation as an extension of the reward, which at times is the best part of the reward. As a result you’ll appreciate more aspects of life and have a better perspective of things as they unfold.
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