Ordinary Is Extraordinary

This week’s guest post originally appeared on her brilliant blog, Surviving Life’s Curveballs 

Jennifer is a writer whose heartfelt and open take on life, allow us to consider just how extraordinary everyday moments can be….even the ‘curve balls’. 

Often I find myself busy in everyday life, rushing through the simple pleasures. Instead of enjoying my favorite parts of each day, I begin looking forward to a long awaited vacation, three-day weekends, holidays, or any special events thinking they will be amazing, making up for the moments lost to the hustle.

The truth is, the extraordinary lies in the ordinary parts of everyday life.

                    Ordinary is extraordinary

The unexpected giggles as I crack eggs for breakfast before we rush out the door, enjoying the beauty of nature as we walk to the bus, the warmth of my son’s hand as he slips it into mine; these are the moments that make life worth living. Rich beyond measure, the little things are what fill me back up when responsibilities, overscheduled days and long hours of work have depleted my reserves.

As a mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend, full-time employee and so much more, the demands of life are plentiful. I see this reflected in the lives of my friends as well. We work hard to fulfill obligations pushing to the side anything we would truly like to do.

At one point last year, I had myself so busy that I began to sacrifice time with my family. I began missing dinners around the table, reading with the boys, evening games of badminton. My values no longer matched the priority of my to-do list.

After talking things over in depth with my husband he agreed I had taken on too much and I needed to simplify. Saying “no” to others would give me the freedom to say “yes” to my family. To myself.

The problem was, and still is, saying no is a monumental challenge for me. Helping my family, friends and community are exceptionally important. Being responsible and helping to take care of the community that takes care of me is how I perceive value in myself as well as others. How could I say no? How could I stop giving back?

It was my husband who uncomplicated that issue for me. He reminded me of my strong conviction of our actions speak louder than our words and asked me to think about what my actions were saying.

A very uncomfortable moment of clarity struck. My family, my beloveds, were not my first priority. I had bumped them down the list because they were the easiest to disappoint. They would wait for me at home, they would understand. Yikes!

What did I want them to understand? That other people and projects were more important than them? That, when they grow up and have families of their own their focus, should be elsewhere? NO! Absolutely not!

The multiple volunteer positions were the first to go, next were all the miscellaneous parties. I began attending only the ones with significance. With the additional time, I found myself back into the nightly routine of dinner, dishes, homework, baths and bed–loving every minute of it.

The daily grind sounds like such a mundane, horrible thing, but truly it is where I find the most satisfaction. Dinner around the table opens the door to deep conversations with those I love most.

Dishes are done by the boys giving my husband and I a few minutes of privacy to reconnect after the work day. Homework helps me check in with how school is going with each of the kids. Bath time offers one on one time with each of my sons to talk about anything weighing on their minds.

This is not to say that I have found the answer to life’s demands, our hectic schedules, or that our family lives happily ever after. What I am claiming is that my family is number one in both words and action now.

I still deeply struggle to say no when asked to join committees or attend functions that I don’t really want to go to. But I keep my husband’s question close at heart. I ask myself what my actions are saying because, in reality, that is my true self.

While I continue to look forward to escaping to the ocean for vacations, I don’t wish away the days leading up to soaking in the sun. Instead, I linger over morning coffee with my husband, delight in spontaneous trips to the apple orchard, and smile as my family snuggles up with each other on the couch to watch movies.

Now I focus on enjoying our extraordinary life in the everyday, ordinary moments.

If you enjoyed this post, pop on over to Jennifer’s site Surviving Life’s Curveballs and read more or check her out on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.

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Are We Ignorant of What’s Really Important?

WE all know what’s important in life, right?

If you had to write them down, we’d possibly see a list that looks a little like this:

  1. Spending time with Family and friends
  2. Looking after my health
  3. Having a steady income
  4. Doing things that make me happy ….etc

Yep, pretty clear cut, but I’ve been thinking about this list a lot lately.

Firstly

I wonder if what we feel is important, doesn’t necessarily correlate with what we actually DO to ensure these things are important in our lives?

We’re all probably guilty of working way too hard at times and struggled as a result to find quality time with our family and in the rush of daily life, cheap convenience food has been consumed to the detriment of our guts.

I’m guilty of this and then some.

So if we think we know what’s important, why is there no strong correlation between our what’s-really-important list and what we actually DO, to ensure these important priorities remain exactly that?

Secondly

As a knock on effect from this, it feels like there’s something universally missing from this list? Something that effectively influences all the items on it?

Maybe it’s understanding the way our mind works, knowing how and why we make the decisions we do? That’s got to be as important, if not priority number 1 on the list, right?

This is the idea proposed by social psychologists of late.

Understanding why we think the way we do and in turn why we DO the things we do, might just be the missing link in ensuring we have more of a correlation between our perceived priorities and our real world experiences.

Sounds heavy, but it isn’t. It’s really the old adage of “if we say we’re going to do something, we do it”, but of course this rarely happens.

Why?

Well, there are a whole range of factors we could throw into this debate for why we struggle to stick to our what’s-really-important list; a new deadline from the boss, that unexpected illness, an extreme weather event (all beyond our control) mean priorities can get shuffled about.

But Social Psychologists such as Richard Nisbett and Behavioural Economists like Dan Ariely believe the real reason we struggle is because often we are unaware of what IS actually important to us and we confuse our motivations with our actual actions.

“It’s amazing how ignorant we are of things that are really important to us.” Social psychologist Richard Nisbett.

In this interview, Nisbett simply makes the case for a better understanding of how our mind works, so that we might appreciate the forces at play when we do make decisions.

In attempting to hit the mark on that list of ours, we make decisions every moment of the day and our actions in turn then effect the outcome of our lives.

I had to work over the weekend again to get on top of paperwork, so didn’t really get to spend quality time with my loved ones.

I need this new job because it means we’ll pay off our house sooner, but that 3 hour commute each day is a bugger.

I’ve committed to this social engagement even though it’s tedious and takes me away from some quiet downtime I’ve been needing lately.

This is me….. Often!

Irrationality

Dan Airely suggests we are predictably irrational when it comes to making decisions.

“All of those cases we care about, people have a wrong lay theory about how they themselves will behave and because of that, they can make a mistake.

The way we rationalise our decisions if often out of whack with our list of priorities.

I’m wondering now if I took the time to really sit with these decision, took the care to listen to the thoughts entering my head and the feelings entering my body, maybe at that precise point in time, I’d make better choices.

Ones that led me to find a better correlation between my what’s-important-in-life list and my actual life.

Food for thought perhaps?

 

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