In Defense of the Ordinary

In Defense of the Ordinary

The other day I was watching TV and an ad came on for something. 

I actually have no idea what the ad was for, maybe a car or laundry detergent or something other basic thing.  What struck me, though, was the ridiculous premise that this ordinary thing (that I cannot even remember!) was referred to as “soul changing.”  As if this very mundane item that you would use every day needed to not just be useful, it had to be more important, so important that it would change the very nature of your existence.  This got me thinking…as I watch, increasingly, the pressure for everyone to be special and important and amazing mounts, the ability of people to just be good enough is getting swept away.  

Here’s the problem though:  the vast, vast majority of what makes up our daily lives is not soul changing stuff.

Instead, it is the little courtesies, the small pleasures, the boring tasks (talking about you dishes), the work, the unplanned conversations, the errands, and the day-to-day repetitive tasks that actually are the most important things.  It is supposed to be rare to be special.  It is supposed to be important to have occasional importance.  If everything is Amazing! Special! Important! it dilutes the truly amazing, special, and important stuff.  

Furthermore, it creates a paradox where we miss out on the little stuff that is remarkable, because we are constantly pushing for some big thing to be happening. 

This both decreases overall happiness (as we desperately claw for happiness) and increases stress, making us less able to enjoy our day-to-day operations, and less enjoyable to be around.  Missing the small stuff is actually a very big problem.  

The next time you find yourself feeling dissatisfied with your ordinary, regular life, see if you can reorient yourself to doing the small stuff well, and enjoying the small things that are happening all around us.

Smell the flowers when you walk into the store.  Heck, maybe even buy a bouquet and challenge yourself to see how long you can make them live and be pretty on your table.  Hug a friend.  Call someone you haven’t talked to in a while.  Get that pile of stuff in the corner cleaned up.  Mow the lawn and enjoy being outside.  Let yourself enjoy the smell of freshly cut grass.  Wash your car.  Clear out a drawer that’s overcrowded.  Actually interact with the clerk at the grocery store.  

You get the drift. 

Focus on the small, ordinary, boring, repetitive stuff that is all around you and you might just end up feeling amazing after all.