Friday, August 7th, 2020

R Relationships by Dr. Bill Austin
Igniting the Spark


“We often feel tired
not because we have done too much,
but because we have done too little
of what sparks a light in us.”
—Alexander Den Heijer

I have been exploring what makes people happy or, in other words, what brings a spark into their lives. One study shows that people who live in the moment are among the happiest. We all have known people who cannot seem to enjoy the moment because they are obsessed with worrying about what might happen next. Some of those people are like the person with a TV remote. They scroll through the channels in a rush, never pausing long enough to enjoy what is available to them.

This reminds me of my youthful hikes with my brother and father. My brother and I were in such a hurry to get to the trail's end that we missed the natural beauty all around us. At the end of the hike, Dad would ask us if we saw such and such. One time he asked us if we had seen that snake near the path we were hiking! That was one time I was thankful I was distracted! We had missed the treasures the woods had to offer because we were focused on other things. Some of us miss the opportunities in a given moment because we are in a hurry to move on. We believe the next moment will offer more than the current one.

Igniting the spark is about choosing the best among several good options and not feeling guilty for what we didn't choose. There are a lot of good things we could do, but what would be the best use of our time and energy? There was a story about a son who got into trouble. The father asked the son how, as a father, he had failed him. The son replied: “You were so busy doing good things for others that you didn't have time for me.” Though we may accomplish much good serving on some committee, perhaps our time could be best used connecting more deeply with our families and loved ones.

My grandfather lived in a small town in Tennessee. The entire town knew him because he waved and spoke to everyone he passed on the street. I recall when he had a heart attack at age 85 and had to be admitted into the hospital. He had my mother roll him in his wheelchair him down to the hospital lobby so he could talk to everyone coming and going there. According to the happiness study, connecting to others through a friendly greeting and a passing smile can ignite a spark. My grandfather was a happy man because even when confined to a hospital wheelchair, he lived in the moment, connecting to others and setting off sparks.

Dr. William E. Austin is a licensed psychotherapist and holds a Doctor of Divinity degree. He is a therapist with Tidewater Pastoral Counseling Services . He is well known for his warmth and sense of humor. His book, Creating Our Safe Place - Articles on Healthy Relationships, can be purchased through

Tidewater Pastoral Counseling: 623-2700