Love the Journey: The Context
In this article, a definitive look at what philosophers, theologians, psychologists, and scientists throughout history have thought regarding focusing on loving the journey of life and not the outcome, and the impact of this philosophy on the quality of your life and your well-being.
Modern Philosophy, Psychology, & Science
Modern science and psychology emphasize the importance of focusing on the present moment and cultivating positive emotions, such as gratitude and compassion, in order to improve well-being. Positive psychology, in particular, focuses on the development of strengths and virtues that allow individuals to thrive and find meaning and purpose in their lives. Modern science has also identified various factors, such as social connection and physical activity, that contribute to overall well-being.
Modern philosophy, influenced by existentialism and pragmatism, emphasizes the importance of creating meaning and purpose in one's own life. Modern philosophers encourage individuals to focus on the present moment and to embrace the uncertainty and complexity of life. By taking responsibility for their own lives and creating their own values, individuals can find greater fulfillment and well-being.
Axial Philosophies Overall
The Axial Philosophies, which emerged during the Axial Age (around 800-200 BCE), emphasized the importance of focusing on the journey of life rather than the outcome. These philosophies posited that true happiness and fulfillment are not found in achieving external goals, but in the way we approach and experience our lives. By cultivating virtues such as compassion, wisdom, and gratitude, individuals could find meaning and purpose in their everyday experiences, regardless of the outcomes they achieve. This philosophy can lead to greater well-being and a more satisfying life.
Confucianism & Daoism
Confucianism and Daoism, two of the major axial philosophies, both emphasized the importance of focusing on the present moment and finding contentment in life's simple pleasures. Confucianism emphasized the cultivation of virtues such as filial piety, loyalty, and compassion, while Daoism emphasized living in harmony with nature and embracing the concept of wu-wei, or non-action. Both of these philosophies advocated for a shift away from external goals and towards an appreciation of the journey of life.
Hinduism & Buddhism
Hinduism emphasizes the concept of karma, the idea that the quality of one's current life is determined by the actions taken in previous lives, and that the actions taken in the current life will determine the quality of future lives. This philosophy encourages individuals to focus on the journey of life, rather than the outcome, and to act in accordance with dharma, or moral duty, in order to achieve positive karma. By cultivating virtues such as compassion and detachment, individuals can find meaning and purpose in their everyday experiences and ultimately achieve a higher level of well-being.
Buddhism posits that attachment to outcomes is a major source of suffering and advocates for the cultivation of mindfulness, compassion, and wisdom as a means to finding peace and happiness. The Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path provide a framework for achieving this state of being. Buddhism teaches that by focusing on the present moment and letting go of attachment to outcomes, individuals can find contentment and well-being in their daily lives.
Traditional Western Philosophy & Stoics
Traditional Western philosophy, including the Stoics, emphasizes the importance of focusing on what is within one's control and accepting what is not. The Stoics believed that true happiness comes from cultivating inner peace and living in accordance with reason and virtue, rather than external outcomes. This philosophy can lead to greater well-being by helping individuals to find contentment in the present moment and to approach life's challenges with resilience and equanimity.
Christianity, Judaism, Islam
Christianity teaches that the ultimate goal of life is to love and serve God, and that true fulfillment is found in living a life of virtue and faith. While Christianity acknowledges the importance of external outcomes, such as achieving salvation, it also emphasizes the importance of focusing on the present moment and living a life of service and compassion. By cultivating virtues such as humility and gratitude, individuals can find meaning and purpose in their everyday experiences and ultimately achieve a higher level of well-being.
Judaism, like Christianity, emphasizes the importance of living a life of faith and virtue, but places more emphasis on living in accordance with God's laws and commandments. While Christianity places greater emphasis on the importance of personal salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, Judaism emphasizes the importance of following the Torah and observing Jewish law. Both religions emphasize the importance of living in the present moment and cultivating virtues such as compassion, humility, and gratitude.
Islam teaches that individuals should focus on their actions in the present moment and leave the outcome to God. Muslims are encouraged to cultivate virtues such as patience, contentment, and gratitude in order to find peace and happiness in this life and the hereafter. By submitting to God's will and living a life of service to others, Muslims can find meaning and purpose in their everyday experiences and achieve a higher level of well-being.
- Armstrong, Karen. The Great Transformation: The Beginning of Our Religious Traditions. Anchor Books, 2006.
- Dalai Lama. The Essence of Buddhism. Simon & Schuster, 2001.
- Esposito, John L. Islam: The Straight Path. Oxford University Press, 2011.
- Jacobs, Louis. "Judaism." Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Stanford University, 2020, plato.stanford.edu/entries/judaism/.
- Flood, Gavin. An Introduction to Hinduism. Cambridge University Press, 1996.
- Ivanhoe, Philip J. "Daoism and Confucianism." Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Stanford University, 2017, plato.stanford.edu/entries/daoism-confucianism/.
- McGrath, Alister E. Christianity: An Introduction. Blackwell Publishing, 2006.
- Sellars, John. "Stoicism." Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Stanford University, 2020, plato.stanford.edu/entries/stoicism/.
- Seligman, Martin E. P., and Tracy A. Steen. "Positive Psychology: An Introduction." American Psychologist, vol. 55, no. 1, 2000, pp. 5-14.
- Soccio, Douglas J. Archetypes of Wisdom: An Introduction to Philosophy. Cengage Learning, 2016.