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Jobs are done best at right pace

June 25, 2010|By LISA PREJEAN

Editor's note: Lisa Prejean is on vacation. This column originally ran in February 2009.

On a recent evening, my son was sitting in our kitchen quietly reading his health book while I was doing the dishes.

"Listen to this, Mom: 'Some scientists believe that people who are always pushing themselves have a greater danger of heart disease than those who 'take it easy.' "

I wasn't sure how to respond. Why did he pick that passage to read out loud to me? Does he think I'm driven? Does he think I push him? Does he think he pushes himself too hard? Or did he just find that section interesting?

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After almost 14 years of parenting, I've learned that a direct question doesn't always provide accurate information. If a question is asking for a "yes" or a "no," that's usually all that will be given.

For instance, if I ask "Did you have a good day today?" most of the time the answer will stop at "yes" or "no," unless I ask follow-up questions.

So I said, "Well, there are two ways to look at that theory on heart disease. Some people set goals, establish a schedule, and work consistently to meet those goals. They might appear driven when they are simply working hard.

"Other people might seem to be taking it easy but they become stressed when deadlines near because they haven't set goals and aren't working consistently to meet them."

He thought about that and nodded.

I continued: "Some people also think they're taking it easy when they actually are adding to the stress in their lives. Think about how excited and frustrated some kids become when they're playing computer games. Is that a good example of taking it easy?

"Imagine if you had multiple game systems, a computer and a television in your room. Do you think you would be able to relax at night?"

He shook his head, and we talked about the previous evening when I had walked into his room just before bedtime.

He was working diligently on a LEGO skyscraper that he is building for a contest. The room was filled with rich, resonant sounds coming from his CD player. This particular CD contains songs that are in the new book of music he is learning to play on his violin.

The atmosphere was so peaceful, I wanted to linger there and add a few blocks to the building myself.

By design, our children do not have multiple electronic devices in their rooms. We feel they don't need extra stimulation in order to relax.

Plus, the distractions would keep them from the goals we've set for them and for the goals they've set for themselves. One of those goals is getting enough rest.

Being driven in the right way, with the right balance, makes for a healthy lifestyle.

Remember the story of the tortoise and the hare? The other animals thought that a turtle could never beat a rabbit in a race. However, the turtle started working on his goal right away and made his way to the finish line, inch by inch. The rabbit decided to take it easy until it was almost too late to meet his goal. By the time he got back on track, the tortoise was crossing the finish line in front of him.

I explained it like this to my son: "Sometimes it may seem like you're doing more than others because you are working on a consistent basis. In the long run, you will enjoy your work more because you won't feel like you are rushing through it."

There is satisfaction in a job well done, especially one that is done at the right pace.

Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a weekly column for The Herald-Mail's Family page. Send e-mail to her at lisap@herald-mail.com

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