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I’m a fanatical reader of children’s literature, and one of my favorite authors is Laura Ingalls Wilder. In fact, Happier at Home’s conclusion—which I think, in all modesty, is one of the best things I’ve ever written in my entire life—centers on the last few sentences from Little House in the Big Woods.

A thoughtful reader suggested that I might enjoy Little House in the Ozarks, a collection of the pieces that Wilder wrote for regional newspapers and magazines. Heck yes! I got my hands on a copy right away.

I found much that interested me, and I was particularly struck by one paragraph.

“We are so overwhelmed with things these days that our lives are all, more or less, cluttered. I believe it is this, rather than a shortness of time, that gives us that feeling of hurry and almost of helplessness. Everyone is hurrying and usually just a little late. Notice the faces of the people who rush past on the streets or on our country roads! They nearly all have a strained, harassed look, and anyone you meet will tell you there is no time for anything anymore.”

Remember, she wrote this in 1924 when she lived on a farm in a rural part of the Ozarks in Missouri.

I think that we often assume that we feel rushed, hurried, and overwhelmed because of the internet, email, TV, and other newfangled contraptions. But here’s Wilder describing the same phenomenon. Maybe that rushed feeling is an aspect of the experience of “today” for many adults; while we assume that it’s the new gizmos (whether that’s locomotors, automobiles, telephones, or email) that make us feel that way, it’s really always ourselves.

Speaking of Happier at Home: A large part of that book describes me grappling with the challenge of slowing down time and creating a sense of leisure and hurriedness.

Do you struggle with this? To develop a sense of unhurriedness amid the pace of everyday life?


Gretchen Rubin is the author of the #1 New York Times Bestseller The Happiness Project—an account of the year she spent test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific studies, and lessons from popular culture about how to be happier—and the recently released Happier at Home. On her popular blog, The Happiness Project, she reports on her daily adventures in the pursuit of happiness. For more doses of happiness and other happenings, follow Gretchen on Facebook and Twitter.

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*Image courtesy of juliejordanscott.