I sprinted through my twenties like a small animal on a plastic wheel. Coworkers stepped aside when they heard my high heels flying down a hallway. Friends affectionately asserted that I was their favorite manic squirrel and suggested I calm down and chill out. Police officers—less affectionately—demanded I put on the brakes while handing over tickets, indifferent to my need for speed. Yes, I was a mover and a shaker, making life happen and falling into bed exhausted at the end of each day. As a high-functioning chick with a strong perfectionist streak, going at breakneck speed can feel like a euphoric drug. Working at top speed, I feel like I am “keeping up” and manifesting my drive to the world.
But, am I—are we—happiest when we sprint through our lives?
As children, many of us are encouraged to aim for the stars, or to at least “reach our potential”. By the time we’re high school seniors, we’re accustomed to a full day of classes and college applications, varsity sports, extracurriculars, and a range of outside activities. It doesn’t stop when we reach university and scramble to pad our resumes to land plum jobs. On and on our freight train continues until one day, perhaps, life intervenes. Maybe you’re suddenly unemployed. Maybe you’ve broken a leg and are home on your doctor’s orders. Maybe Covid has turned your world upside down and you’re suddenly living alone in a new city without a plan.
A stork rocked my speed-racer lifestyle this past August. Yes, taking are of a newborn is exhausting, but not in the way I was accustomed to! From a pre Baby Flynn perspective, I felt like I was achieving precious little throughout the day. I felt nursing and changing diapers didn’t “count” and that I should be baking more cookies, writing more thank-you notes, and starting my next book! Fortunately, while going through treatment for anorexia, I developed a proactive approach to life, which I often refer to as my “lifestyle design”. Consequently, in an effort to nip bad mama feelings in the bud, I’ve spent the past couple of weeks considering that I truly need in order to feel satisfied in my new role.
As always, the result of this introspection is that our perspective is everything! I might have accomplished a flurry of tasks as a speed-racer in my past, but happiness was never a direct result of sprinting ahead! Rather, I was stressed, anxious, exhausted, and driven by a need to prove myself rather than a genuine desire to accomplish tasks. My happiest moments in life usually occur when I am calm and able to enjoy a sunset or a meal with friends without stressing about a to-do list. If I am good enough as I am—a truth I’ve been manifesting since leaving ED treatment—than I do not need sprint ahead. I am allowed to relax and work at a calm pace. I am allowed to take it easy. I deserve to enjoy my baby boy and to live each day in the moment with him. Sure, my personality requires mini personal wins outside of Flynn throughout the day. I’ve learned to ask Ryan for help to ensure I have time to run in the evening or to write this blog! But I am actively working to reframe negative thoughts to feel satisfied in my heart, regardless of my output.
Depleting ourselves—working ourselves to our bones or denying our body of nutrients—is not the answer to happiness! It’s wonderful to have ambitions and goals, and to work hard on something we love, but it is also completely okay to SLOW DOWN and to shift/reframe the meaning of “success”. Taking care of Flynn is my new full-time job. It’s a different pace, but it is also tremendously challenging at times, and I am developing and learning each and every single day.
Consequently, let’s give ourselves grace! Let’s remember to reframe the lies that our monkey brain drops into our minds like, “You aren’t doing enough!” or “You failed today!” Let’s remember that perspective is the true harbinger of happiness and that if you can actively reframe your thoughts, you will believe you are enough and deserve love, regardless of your pace.
Image by Dave Noonan from Pixabay