Faster Often Is Not Better

October 9, 2017

Personal Growth

Many years ago I was fascinated to see a small boat that could be propelled by one or two occupants pushing pedals, much like a bicycle. The pedals rotated paddles that dipped into the water and pushed the boat along, much like the old river steamboats were pushed along by paddles.

My friend and I began to move our boat around on the water, and—as is inevitable with boys—we began to compete with another boat for greater speed. To my surprise, I discovered that pedaling faster than a certain degree produced no additional forward velocity of the boat. It was as though the boat had a maximum speed, and neither boat could beat the other boat by the occupants trying harder. (We’ll ignore the physics of why that is.)

In more recent years I have seen a similar phenomenon in emotional growth. “Trying harder” often produces no better results than simply being more conscious and deliberately taking the next reasonable steps, one at a time, in no particular hurry. We’re not in a race. We’re here to be happy, and we can accomplish that all along the way.

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