Thought Catalog
June 16, 2017

Are You Moving Too Fast To Be Happy?

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What is the issue?
Tim Gouw

I did something different yesterday morning that reminded me of the importance of the pace with which we live our lives.

My six-year-old son, Pavlos, woke up super early (6am, compared to 7:15 or so).

He was (as he usually is) full of energy.

The house was quiet. My wife and 4-year-old daughter were asleep.

I was up reading.

We normally tell Pavlos when he wakes up to look at the clock and if it is before 7am he can get up, brush his teeth, and get changed, but he then has to get back into bed until at least 7.

He’s pretty good with that routine.

At about 6am yesterday, I heard the thud of him jumping out of his bed followed by the pitter patter of his tiny little footsteps going from his bedroom to our bedroom.

For some reason, however, I decided to interrupt his routine yesterday.

“Pavlos,” I yelled.

The footsteps stopped, and then started again, growing louder and louder as he bolted down the stairs.

He turned the corner and, as Zig Ziglar would say, smiled so wide he could eat a banana sideways.

I smiled, too, said good morning, and gave him a big hug and kiss.

He knew I wasn’t sending him back to bed, so he asked me if I could help him find his bag of popsicle sticks and some post-it notes because he and his friends had planted jellybeans at school and the kindergartners kept digging them up.

He wanted to make “flags” to put around the jellybeans so the kindergartners would know there were plants there that the first graders were wanting to grow into lollipops.

We made flags.

It was such a fun time, with him writing “plants here” nice and neatly on the post-its, me making some, too, and then me reinforcing the post-it notes on the sticks with scotch tape.

When we were done, he gathered his “flags,” put them in a ziplock bag, and stuck the zip lock bag in his backpack.

He was so excited.

I then asked him if he wanted to take a walk with me.

We had never taken a walk before school, and we hadn’t taken a walk at all since well before winter.

We both put on the closest gear available, him wearing bright red rain boots, the first coat he could find, and a baseball cap, and me wearing black pajama pants, a white t-shirt, a wool hat, and my winter coat.

We took a 10-15 minute walk to the end of the cul-de-sac and back.

I led him in conversation a bit, but mostly let his mind wander and asked him questions about things that are important to him.

When we got home, he grabbed the post-it notes, again, and ran to the corner of the room.

I got ready for work.

He told me when I get to work to look in my backpack and “dig deep.”

I did.

At the bottom of my backpack was the crumpled post-it note you see right here.

Is your pace limiting your happiness?I called my wife to let her know about the note because I knew she would find it cute.

She told the kids that I was on the phone and to say hi.

Pavlos yelled in the background:

“Hi Dad! I had a great time with you this morning!”

The sincerity and joy in his voice were obvious.

I melted.

Then I paused.

Then I realized that I sometimes let my mind speed through the day, racing through the minutes and hours like an athlete training to win the next race. I spend the whole day focused on what I need to do next to accomplish a goal I have set for my personal or professional life.

I stick to my routine, wanting to finish my reading goal, have a certain amount of quiet time, or otherwise just continue according to my “plan.”

I spend the whole day focused on what I need to do next to accomplish some personal or business goal months or years out.

Other times, I slow down and realize that I’m already winning, right now, in ways that are way more important than whatever comes next.

How can you slow down today?

What can you interrupt?

What can you say yes to?

How are you already winning in ways that are more important than whatever comes next? TC mark