My parents went on frequent road trips when I was growing up. Like most young children, I frequently asked, “Are we there yet?” When I became a teenager, I often fell asleep in the back seat of the car. When I awakened, my mother would tell me, “you missed so much.” My mom knew something that I didn’t know. Life is a journey with joy to be found all along the way.
What about you? Do you need more joy in the journey?
Why is life a journey?
The definition of a journey is traveling from one place to another. We begin this trip at birth and end it at death. In between is the journey.
Our travels take us through the adventures of childhood, the responsibilities of adulthood, the changing seasons of life, a multitude of life lessons that we can learn, and all the wonder of seeing God in our everyday moments.
“Happiness is a direction, not a place.” Sydney J. Harris
Why is the journey important?
On our family road trips, there was much to anticipate along the way. We always wanted to know where the next rest stop would be, the next restaurant, the next fuel stop, the next point of interest, and when we would arrive at our next motel for the night. While some of these were quite mundane, they contributed to the overall experience of the trip. Then there were the flat tires that detained us, the radiator leak, or the few times we spun out into a snowbank. Our trips were adventures. Each part built memories, stamina, and solid relationships.
The experiences of our life journey are similar and contribute to who we are.
Life is not a destination
As a child, I could hardly wait to grow up. Now that I am an adult, I have many pleasant memories of birthday parties, Santa, building snowmen, summer camp, learning to drive, and high school marching band, to name a few. What a shame it would have been to rush through childhood and miss all the memories.
The journey is full of treasures
Along this road we call life, there will be many adventures. Some will be exciting. Some challenging. Some may be ordinary and boring. But all contain hidden treasures just waiting to be found. All can enrich our lives and help us grow.
“Everyone is on a treasure hunt.” Paul Tripp
7 ways to enjoy the journey of life
First and foremost, we must choose to enjoy our personal journey.
Regardless of what happens in life, we are never victims. While other people and circumstances might impact our lives in ways we wish were not so, no one can control our responses.
With that in mind, here are concrete ways to enjoy life.
1. Develop gratitude
Is your joy battery dead? A sense of gratitude will quickly jumpstart it. Gratitude makes what we have enough. It helps take away that “glass is half empty” thinking. We will never really enjoy life without the proper perspective. Keeping a journal is a great tool for developing gratitude, even when you don’t feel thankful.
2. Nurture friendships
A good friend is a treasure in life. But like anything worthwhile, we must cultivate that connection. Friendships need attention to make them last. Sharing the journey of life with someone else will make the road feel less bumpy while enriching both of your lives and creating a deep sense of joy and fulfillment.
3. Live in the present
There is a saying that you should not look back because that is not the direction you are going. This is not 100% true. Dr. David Jeremiah explains it this way. There is a reason that the mirrors on a car are only a fraction of the size of the windshield. Safe drivers briefly glance in the mirrors but concentrate on what is ahead of them. Look back for the purpose of education, then move on.
If you struggle with regret over the past or have a hard time forgiving yourself, you will be robbed of joy in the journey. To have a happier life, you need to rise above your past. It can be done.
4. Learn to forgive
The thought of forgiving others is something that many people get hung up on. There are many misconceptions about what forgiveness actually means. Sometimes we buy into those lies. Yet the truth is that people who don’t forgive are miserable, missing out on much of the joy in life.
5. Read and listen to what is positive
Is what you read and listen to influencing you in a positive way? Do they tell you the truth about life, or do they send your emotions into a tailspin? Moviemakers take advantage of the way music influences our feelings in order to pull us into the experience. Social media, news, magazines, books, and music can have a huge impact on our ability to have, or not have joy in the journey.
6. Experience nature whenever possible
God has given us a whole world to enjoy. On a day when I was feeling a bit melancholy, I started looking around. Here is what I found:
- Red kitty playing with a leaf
- Big sound from a little hen
- Rough bark on a big oak tree
- The smell of rose petals unfolding in the garden
- The sound of birds exchanging greetings in the trees
As my list grew, I smiled.
Nature can help us slow down and discover needed joy. When we examine it closely, nature creates a sense of wonder and awe.
If you live in the city, you may think that experiencing nature is not possible. Let me assure you that there are many ways to explore nature without going to the woods.
7. Journey with God
The book of Proverbs contains many good thoughts on how to live a successful life. One treasure is found in chapter 3, verses 5 and 6. It says that when we trust God, not trying to figure things out all by ourselves, He will guide us. We won’t get lost in this journey. God is the perfect GPS for finding our way in life, including how to have joy in the journey.
Bible verses about life’s journey
Jesus said that He came to give us life, an abundant, joyous life. (John 10:10) That comes when we journey with God.
In the book of Philippians, chapter 4, verses 6-8 we are told that the way we think will affect how much joy and peace we have in our lives. It tells us that we can pray, but without gratitude, we likely will have anxiety. We also are told what specifically to think about. No guesswork here.
“Whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, good, excellent, worthy of praise, think on these things.” Philippians 4:8
A gift for your journey
Because new habits take time to develop, we often need reminders to keep us on track. The following are gifts that I hope will help and encourage you.
When I was going through a difficult point in my life, I chose music that was uplifting. “Experience Joy Instrumental”, by Integrity Music, is a 60-minute recording of happy music that will lift your spirits. It is available on Youtube and Spotify.
I also would like to give you these scripture cards as a reminder of the power of your thoughts. You can download them with no email required.
This Bible verse card deck can be cut apart, laminated, carried in your purse, or hung on the rearview mirror of your car to remind you that real joy comes from Jesus. They are also free.
I pray that you will enjoy the ride on this journey of life. You might also want to read the following: