“Happiness is not a destination to arrive at, but a means of travel”

“Happiness is not a destination to arrive at, but a means of travel”

I often introduce this thought as a “Hallmark philosophy”, because my wife framed a card (with this statement) and placed it in our downstairs bathroom.  So, what does it mean to you?

When I was 10 years old, living in Iowa, my dad decided that I should clean out our chicken coop. We had 300 chickens in 90 Fahrenheit and 90% humidity.  The odor of hot and humid chicken poop is best imagined (or avoided).  Despite my protestations that my older brothers deserved the task more than I, Dad was firm….. “just do it”.

What I was pitching out the door into the manure wagon (4 tined pitch fork) was compacted about ten inches thick.  I soon noticed that it kept a straight edge well.  So I made the outline of our house … then I expanded it to a village outline… then a town… then a small city… then to what I imagined New York skyline would have looked like….. (my Dad checked on me then, was bemused at my happy excitement with the “art work”, shook his head at me, but made no other comment since the wagon was half full!).   I then started shrinking the design (looking at what was left, rather than what was gone) as I continued to pitch manure… city… to town… to village… to our house.. with our porch the last to go.  I was done and time to clean up…. thoroughly. 

I was happy during that journey.  That is part of what that thought means to me.


Article written by Doug Peterson, PhD.

Doug Peterson is our clinical psychologist on the team. He received his doctorate in Psychology from State University of New York at Binghamton. Cognitive behavioral therapy is his approach to psychotherapy. Dr. Peterson has special interest in issues associated with aging and the management of chronic medical conditions.