It’s about the journey, not the destination

Street name Elizabeth

image: (c) Dr David R Hamilton

There was a fierce storm in the UK last Thursday. All throughout the night we could hear the wind and rain. It was almost deafening. In the morning, our garden was strewn with torn-off branches of trees.

I was due to drive from my home in central Scotland to London. Each year in December, my publisher (Hay House) organises a Christmas party in London for the European authors. My plan was to drive because I needed a car to get to and from a speaking event 2 days later.

I delayed my early morning departure by a few hours until the weather had much improved, then set off on what is usually a simple 7-hour drive.

When I was about half way, an accident had occurred just up ahead. It was on the M6 motorway, just west of Manchester, and the M6 was now being closed. Over the next few hours, a long queue of very-slow-moving traffic was moved off the motorway and headed towards the town of Warrington to pick up a main road back onto the M6 at the next junction.

With not much else to do in a stationary traffic queue, I checked the BBC Travel News website to get real-time updates on the roads. I learned that there were two closures of the M6. The other one was about 100 miles farther, near Birmingham. I would meet that one too. At these times, most people act in one of two ways.

The first is frustration. A man in a blue car behind me was so angry when we were funnelled off the M6 that he started banging on his steering wheel – with his head! The other option is to accept what is happening in the moment. It’s not always easy to do, but I reasoned that there wasn’t really anything I could do to change the situation. I would most likely miss the party. It’s either frustration or find a way of enjoying the journey. I chose option 2.

Even the thought of having that choice was quite relaxing. I felt empowered as I dwelled on idea that I am in control of my own mind, and therefore how I feel. Just then, I caught sight of a car pulling out of a housing state and had a sudden intuition that there was probably a quicker route through the estates that would bypass the traffic queues.

I decided that trusting my intuition might be a good way to enjoy the journey a bit, regardless of whether it actually got me to my destination any quicker or not. I checked the ‘Maps’ app on my iPhone and I could, indeed, see a route through the streets. I pulled off the main road and into the streets lined with houses.

As I drove along, I felt a little buzz of crazy excitement – to be 300km from home and instead of being on the M6, I was driving though quiet streets lined with houses. It felt good to be trusting my intuition on purpose and I determined to continue trusting it, regardless of where it might take me. I passed a street called, ‘ELIZABETH DRIVE. I smiled, as that’s the name of my partner…the Elizabeth bit. 🙂

I figured it would actually be quite nice to go back and take a photograph of the sign and then text it to Elizabeth, so I did. It’s little things like these that bring complete contrast to what we could or should be doing that can actually help us to feel good. It further removed my mind from the stress of the whole ‘getting-to-my-destination’ thing.

About two minutes later, I passed another street name and, of course, I had to stop and take another photograph. This one was for ‘DAVENHAM AVENUE’. I laughed out loud.

The little intuitive side-step into the housing estates probably saved me about an hour. By the time I picked up the road back onto the M6, I began to wonder if the time-saving I’d made would actually help me get to London on time for the party. Perhaps the M6 at Birmingham would be reopened by the time I got there, I wondered. Then I’d definitely make it. I felt a little burst of satisfaction at having listened to my intuition.

But back on the M6 and heading towards Birmingham, I began to wonder why we all seem so future-focused, including myself. Why was I now turning an enjoyable experience of intuition and contrast into being ‘the reason’ I’d get to the party? It felt like I was cheapening the experience, like I was taking something away from it, that it was merely a means to an end.

We all do this, don’t we? We try to explain why everything happens to us. But does there always need to be a reason? Does the present always need to be a means to get us to the future? Such thinking is a recipe for unhappiness and, to be honest, it’s a dish that most of us serve up to ourselves on a daily basis.

Perhaps if, from time to time, we stop looking for reasons, we stop looking to the future, and just meet the moments, the experiences, as if they are the last we’ll ever have.

I had such fun diverting out of the traffic jam and into the streets of houses. Taking those photographs of the road signs might seem unimportant to many people, especially in a future-focused mindset, but it mattered to me. It was something I laughed at in the moment and it is what I most remember about my day in traffic. It’s these seemingly tiny moments that we most remember later in life. If we’re always looking to the future, our main memories are the goals we achieve. And these are short-lived, because we quickly come up with another goal. We miss so many of the moments in between. We forget about the journey.

I was soon caught up in traffic again. The M6 hadn’t reopened and I moved about 1km in 2 and a half hours. I was stationary much of the time. Great, I thought.

I did a meditation (the traffic was completely stationary, I had my engine switched off, and I did it with my eyes open). It was wonderful, and made more so with the excited edge to my emotions because I was meditating in a traffic jam. I bounced on my seat a few times afterwards. How many people could say they did a self-love meditation on the M6, I wondered?

I also listened to some great music on the radio, using the ‘Shazam’ app on my iPhone to get the name of the songs for downloading later when I could pick up a wifi connection.

I also made a few calls to friends and enjoyed a good laugh. One of my friends said, ‘Poor you, to be stuck on the road all day and miss the party’. My response was, truthfully, ‘I’ve had a great time!’ And I had.

I arrived at my hotel in London way too late for the party but I sat in the restaurant and had a lovely meal and a nice glass of red wine, and the service was excellent – smiling staff who did everything to ensure I enjoyed my stay.

Imagine if we applied this kind of thinking to our lives! My journey on the road could just as easily be the story of your life. Don’t you recognise it?

Don’t get me wrong, there is a time for future-thinking. It gives direction to our lives. But perhaps we don’t need to give it quite so much attention.

Do you want to live for the future and forget to live today, or do you want to squeeze every ounce of experience out of the moments of your life as the journey unfolds?

It’s up to you. You have that power of choice.

Choose wisely!


  1. Krishna on December 12, 2013 at 1:08 pm

    Very inspiring ! Making every moment special rather than only thinking about the future moments and forgetting everything inbetween :)thankyou David

  2. Helen Smith on December 12, 2013 at 1:27 pm

    David you are always such an inspiring person and have grown so much over the years into a special human being. This recent experience reminds us of the power of now at this busy time of year and how we should take cognisance of the only moment that matters – which is now. Glad to hear you have moved home. No doubt many followers in the north will be chuffed. Best wishes with your continual journey and for the festive season.

  3. Trevor Rogers on December 12, 2013 at 2:16 pm

    Hi David,

    So glad you enjoyed your journey and the evening meal. I am sure you were also far more relaxed when you arrived at the hotel than if you had been anxious about getting to the party.
    I am now retired but I recall how so many of my former colleagues would blast up and down the motorways to get to and from meetings and without a single stop on the way. I would however at least treat myself to the simple pleasure of a break or two even if it was just to relax for a few minutes with a coffee. It took the heat out of the journey. I also did not attempt to do the journey in record time. Most I think are not aware they actually do have choices. They just stick to either what they have always done or what others are doing perhaps.
    I have not yet looked into the self-love idea but I am sure I will soon as I suspect I would benefit from it. I have read and referred many times to your ‘How your mind can heal your body’ book and found it full of great advice and guidance, especially regarding the power of affirmations. I have used these to great effect on many occasions.

    Kind regards


  4. Vida Green on December 12, 2013 at 4:14 pm

    Whooo wish i could do that… i.m the one hitting there head on the steering wheel. oh well i will try harder. vida

  5. carol on December 12, 2013 at 8:54 pm

    That’s fantastic David what an experience ! You turned things around by being in the here and know got there safely intuition is WONDERFULL I tend to do this at work if I get stressed and it really helps me cope with things light&luv xcarolxx

  6. june furey on December 13, 2013 at 3:44 am

    Thank you David for your story of your “liviung the moment”. Two years ago I declined triple by-pass surgery (age82) since then have llived each day without stress believing today is the most important. My bp is down 20 points and apart from walker support I am most happy. I also do oil paintings. My son arrives today to spend his 60th birthday with me on Sunday and what more could I ask than he wishes to share this time with me.I lookk forward to more happy journeys from you

  7. Anne on December 13, 2013 at 8:01 am

    Thank you Dave for sending out this post today – tomorrow I am going to the UK for Christmas. In winter the conections from where I live, in Italy, to where I will be spending Christmas are not very good, so it means a long road journey to get to and from both airports. Which mean it will be a long journey.
    I have always hated taking this journey especially in wonter because there are often delays and I arrive at my destination exausted. Reading your blog, just now- the day before I leave – has made me think….. could I be the cause of my exaustion and not the journey in its self? Do I arrive exausausted because I am concentrating on the destination and not on the journey? Probably yes!
    So I am taking this moment now to decide to relax and enjoy the journey whatever may happen. I am convinced that this time the journey will be enjoable and I will arrive if not refreshed at least not knocked out as usual.
    Thank you thank you thank you. Anne

  8. Ursula on December 13, 2013 at 12:51 pm

    Thank you for the timely reminder to find in every day a bit of the here and now.

  9. Dawn Butt on December 14, 2013 at 10:01 am

    Hi David,
    How wonderful and what a terrific reminder to make the most of every moment rather than just getting stressed and frustrated…I have had many days like you experienced and they bring such great joy.
    Best wishes for Christmas

  10. Anne on December 16, 2013 at 3:17 pm

    Hi David – I wrot to thank you for sharing “Enjoy the journey” because I was about to go on a loong journey from Italy to Bristol and because of fligth conections etc I ususally arrive exahausted and therefore HATE long journeys of any kind. So I set off this time with a different mind set – ie instead of hating the journey, I made an effort to ENJOY tge journey. I kept reminding myself of all the nice little things that happend. ie plane leaving on time, arriving on time and there being NO ONE at passport control (that has NEVER HAPPENED – usually thereare LONG queues) so I got to the bus station so early I could get the earlier bus – only I was booked on the later bus leaving over 2hours later. This happened once before only I was told I would have to pay an extra £20 to change my ticket – this time I only had to pay £8 and the lady who served me was SO pleasant – that I can honestly say I enjoyed the journey. So thank you once again, from now on I intend to enjoy all of my journeys 🙂

  11. Lynn on December 17, 2013 at 10:06 am

    Yeah fantastic I try to ask myself when starting to get frustrated what power do I have to change this situation – it might be just as you did embrace it! I also use the loving meditation now when some cheeky driver wants to cut in – “may you be filled with loving kindness etc” it makes me happier and also the other driver.

    Just a question what might you have done if it was going to make you very late or miss at short notice one of your talking events? Glad to hear your sense of direction has greatly improved since your move many years ago to Windsor!

  12. Anna Feist on December 20, 2013 at 9:15 pm

    It’s really amazing reading your posts. Every time they seem to have some resonance with what’s happening for me. Thank you so much David.

    Not sure whether this ends up on Facebook which I hope not so won’t say more!

  13. Renée Paule on December 28, 2013 at 9:25 am

    Hi David,

    What a wonderful story. There’s always a silver lining in the moment and never in the future or the past (my quote).

    Much love to you and Elizabeth over the holidays.


    • David R. Hamilton PhD on January 2, 2014 at 12:24 pm

      Thanks Renee. I like your quote. 🙂