Everyone seems to be searching for the next peak experience in life. The next BIG amazing, unbelievable, mind-blowing, extraordinary fill in the blank – vacation, meal, mountain to climb, you tube video, sunset, extreme sport achievement, performance, promotion, etc., etc., etc. The culture we live in promotes this everywhere we turn. And as humans, we tend to measure our happiness or satisfaction or achievement in our lives by our most extraordinary achievements or experiences. We compare our top extraordinary experiences to everyone else’s.
But I would like to ask you to consider what your life might feel like if you measured happiness, satisfaction, achievement and quality on ordinary moments. If you were truly able to be mindful and in the moment enough to let yourself pause and fully BE in front of ordinary days, ordinary activities, ordinary meals, ordinary exchanges with ordinary people and stop long enough to realize how extraordinary these moments really are.
I feel fortunate to have experienced some really extraordinary things in my life. In 1999 I lived in Europe for a little over a year and traveled all over seeing amazing sights and experiencing incredible moments. But when I pause and reflect on some of the most awe-inspiring experiences from that year, I tend to think about really little ordinary moments. Riding my bike down long stretches of bike paths with the wind in my hair and the sun on my face and the cars and buses moving past me. I remember the street performer who played celtic harp in the park near the river most Sunday evenings and the particular light of day that reflected off the water. I remember walking home from teaching English one snowy winter night and stopping in the middle of the cobblestone road in front of a beautiful big yellow church to look up at the snowflakes falling from the sky. Those examples were not the “top 10” extraordinary moments of that year – the ones I would write home about, or share photos of, but those were moments I felt truly plugged in – really awake and alive and in the moment. Those were simple, beautiful, ordinary moments that have imprinted themselves deep within my memory bank because I stopped long enough to notice.
I also know that when I’m not fully present or awake in a conscious way, I feel numb and dead inside myself. I feel a great sense of detachment and dissatisfaction with my life. I can recognize as soon as this feeling comes over me, I need to recharge, replenish and plug in again. I need to stop searching for the next BIG extraordinary experience and stay present to what’s right in front of me.
So I’d like to ask you to reflect on this question:
What if the 10 most extraordinary moments of your life were really ordinary ones?
How would that change your perspective? Does it shift a sense of contentment to realize that the extraordinary aspects of our lives might actually be right in front of you right now?
Stay awake, stay present and be mindful.