Not too long ago, I visited some good friends from college. They had four kids under the age of six, so their life is very full. We had a nice dinner, visiting and catching up. Before I left, I had the opportunity to read Nathan (the six year old) his bedtime story.
The book was “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” by J.K. Rowling. I love Harry Potter, so it was fun for me to share the story with him.
When I read Harry Potter years ago, I liked the book so much that I read it very quickly. I think I finished the book in a weekend, staying up late each night to find out what happened next.
Reading Harry Potter last week, I was aware of how different I felt.
3 Lessons from Reading to a Child
First, I read the story out loud. Reading out loud caused me to slow down and fully engage in what I was reading. I thought about how the characters Hagrid, Harry, and Hermione might sound, and made up voices for each character.
Second, there was more imagination and engagement with the story. Because I was reading more slowly than usual, I pictured the story in my mind, rather than just breezing through it. There were several times Nathan stopped me, and asked questions about what was happening. There were concepts I explained to him to help him understand the story more fully. We were engaged in the story in a deeper way.
Third, there was anticipation for what happens next. There were several times Nathan stopped me to tell me what he thought was going to happen next. After we finished the chapter, it was time for bed. Nathan asked for the name of the next chapter, and said what he thought was going to happen in the subsequent chapter. Then he went to sleep, excited, eagerly awaiting the next chapter, which would be read the following night.
Getting What We Want Right Now
I think once we grow up and become adults, we often can have what we want immediately. If I want to stay up and read another chapter, I just do it. If I want something, I go to the store and buy it. The joy of anticipation and taking your time goes away.
The Joy of Anticipation
But, I think there is something we miss out on by losing our sense of anticipation and rushing through life. Sometimes the hope and anticipation for something is even more pleasurable and exciting than the actual event itself. Remember how exciting opening presents at Christmas was when you were a kid? I think a big part of the excitement was the anticipation. When we rush through and just do what we want right now, I think we miss something key to our happiness. Also, when we get in the habit of getting everything we want right now, we might struggle to work on things in life that take more time and effort. It’s as if we don’t remember what it is like to work on something slowly but surely.
What is one area of your life that you are rushing through, trying to get exactly what you want as soon as possible? What is one step you could take to slow down and inject a sense of anticipation into your life?