Enjoying the Journey

Anja enjoys her journey by eating cheap sushi every Friday night. Tell her how you enjoy yours at [email protected].

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My sister and I practically grew up on horseback. I loved competing-she didn't. She said she didn't need to compete because she already knew how good she was; she didn't see the need to prove it to anyone.

If you think about it, that is fairly profound. In life, we are constantly competing against others, pushing ourselves to be better, run faster, jump higher. But whom are we really proving ourselves to?

I'm at Berkeley. Am I proud to be here because of the high-quality education I can get, or because it's a highly competitive, prestigious university? Both, probably. In all likelihood, I will apply to an equally prestigious graduate school, spend my summers interning and eventually try to get a high-profile job.

I want a four-page resume documenting my impressive career; I want people to look at me and see shining success. I want my parents to brag about me for a good reason.

But will all those things necessarily make me a happy person?

A friend of mine told me the story of his brother who, after graduating from college, moved to New York City to be a stockbroker. He now works 80 hours a week, won't get a vacation this year and doesn't complain because he values his job so highly. It's a great job, you know-at the age of 30, he'll have an exceptional savings account. Unfortunately, he's already unhappy with it.

Perhaps the key is for you to own your job, and not have your job own you. To focus on the acquisition of knowledge, rather than on your GPA. In the midst of midterms, overwhelmed by papers and take-home exams, we sometimes forget to look at the big picture.

I let the heavy workload consume me; I let it become the cloud that follows me around, that casts a shadow on everything I do. I need a dose of perspective. I need for the future to not overshadow my present.

Putting religious beliefs aside-what if this is our only life? At the end of the race, it probably won't matter how fast we ran, nor will there be special awards for people who had impressive careers. No reimbursement to all those who always hurried to save time. Ironically, those who really enjoyed the race itself will pass the finish line with smiles on their faces, even if they come in last.

Sometimes we forget to remember that perhaps the ultimate happiness and fulfillment lies in the process rather than in the goal itself. Ultimately, I think happiness is the journey, not the destination.

My dad is a great example of all these things. At 56, you'll find him on the dance floor. He speaks five languages with an accent and sings whenever the opportunity arises. With two engineering degrees and a law degree, he doesn't have a laptop, works out of his briefcase and spends all the money that he earns. He takes pride in being a member of the Polish cavalry and in knowing how to drink vodka with the Russians without getting drunk.

He is not proving anything to anybody but himself, and at any given time, in any given place, my dad is constantly having the time of his life.

Another one of my favorite people has the same idea. Most make more money than he does; few are as happy, balanced and secure. His first day at Stanford, he was intimidated by his peers who had all worked at McKinsey or the United Nations while he had been surfing on Bondi Beach. After Stanford, he picked a job that took him not to a fancy office on the East Coast, but to a cold and shabby dorm room in Eastern Europe.

Today, a few years and a lot of traveling later, he is confident that in the future his eclectic background will hold him in good stead wherever he may find himself. Even though he wasn't quite sure of his destination, he decided to travel the unbeaten track. He decided to enjoy the journey.

If this is your only life, what do you want do with it? How are you going to make it count? How fast do you really want to run?

Whatever your answer may be-enjoy the journey, because the destination always changes.


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