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How are you doing? It’s the journey that counts!

January 5, 2012

Why do we ask “How are you doing?” when we want to (sincerely or not) know if somebody is happy? Why don’t we ask “Do you have what you want?”. I would think that would a more accurate question when asking for somebodies happiness. If you have what you want or need you’re happy, right?…. Right?!

Or maybe not… maybe once I’ve reached what I wanted to reach, I already have a new destination in mind where I want to go. And the fact that I haven’t reached that one yet, makes that I’m not a hundred procent happy…yet… Maybe I’m wrong to focus on the destination (why), and should I focus on the journey (how)…?

Surely, enjoying what you’re doing is not more important than knowing what you want? Probably, the one does not go without the other, but that is not quite a satisfactory conclusion for me yet. And how about the difference in being happy in your life versus being happy about your life, and the ‘experiencing self vs remembering self’ that Kahneman talks about (See post “When am I?“)?

Anyway… to be continued… In the meantime:


When you set out for Ithaka
ask that your way be long,
full of adventure, full of instruction.
The Laistrygonians and the Cyclops,
angry Poseidon – do not fear them:
such as these you will never find
as long as your thought is lofty, as long as a rare
emotion touch your spirit and your body.
The Laistrygonians and the Cyclops,
angry Poseidon – you will not meet them
unless you carry them in your soul,
unless your soul raise them up before you.
Ask that your way be long.
At many a Summer dawn to enter
with what gratitude, what joy –
ports seen for the first time;
to stop at Phoenician trading centres,
and to buy good merchandise,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
and sensuous perfumes of every kind,
sensuous perfumes as lavishly as you can;
to visit many Egyptian cities,
to gather stores of knowledge from the learned.
Have Ithaka always in your mind.
Your arrival there is what you are destined for.
But don’t in the least hurry the journey.
Better it last for years,
so that when you reach the island you are old,
rich with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to give you wealth.
Ithaka gave you a splendid journey.
Without her you would not have set out.
She hasn’t anything else to give you.
And if you find her poor, Ithaka hasn’t deceived you.
So wise you have become, of such experience,
that already you’ll have understood what these Ithakas mean.

Source: K. P. Kavafis
P.s. The picture in the header is of one of my ‘Ithaka moments’ in Banjul (Gambia, Africa) where I saw a boat called Alchimist. It reminded me of the book Alchemist by Paolo Coelho.


From → How?, Motivation

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