Thursday, September 16, 2010

Finding Peace in the Ordinary



How many of us have spent our entire lives trying to be something we are not -- bigger, smaller, richer, faster, smarter, more successful?  We teach our children to reach for the stars, knowing they are never really in our grasp.
Last night’s meditation reading in “Ending the Pursuit of Happiness” by Barry Magid forcused on the acceptance of being ordinary.  What a novel idea to be happy with average instead of always trying for something better.
I think I let out an audible sigh when the reader spoke those words.  So many struggles would end if we could just learn to live with ourselves as we are instead of always longing for something that isn’t and may never be.
My mental exercise today is to play with the words SPECIAL and ORDINARY, hopefully finding them interchangeable at some point.

10 Comments:

Blogger Kristin said...

I'm not sure that I'll ever stop striving to be something better, but part of the better (to me) is better at finding happiness in the very small things. Life is a wonder.

9:33 AM  
Blogger lacochran's evil twin said...

That's powerful. And a sad reflection on the human condition.

My father was not extraordinary. He was a simple, good man who appreciated a cool breeze on a hot day and was always pleasant to the people around him. I hope I can be as simply appreciative.

10:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oof; I really wrestle with this powerful stuff. In my professional and public roles there's so much emphasis on excellence and continual growth and "improvement;" I often feel like a fraud in some areas. In my personal life, I also plague myself with "comparing mind" in several areas. For me, growing older/wiser (?) is turning out in part to be learning to enjoy this very moment, this other person, this Self, this thing -- no more, no less -- and without expectations. I stumble; a lot.

Thanks for the reminder to find contentment in what is.

F.

2:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

P.S.

"All of you are perfect just as you are, and you could use a little improvement."

-- Shunryu Suzuki (Zen Master)

So much truth and compassion, especially in that "and"...

F.

2:55 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Anon -- Such a Buddhist concept, yes? That's exactly how the ordinary can be thought of as special.

3:07 PM  
Blogger Steve Reed said...

And yet, we don't want to stop aspiring entirely, because otherwise what propels us to new challenges, new levels of being?

My teachers say that the problems arise when we cling to our imagined ideas of what we want to become. In other words, wanting to grow is OK, but becoming despondent or discouraged with the results is not. We can have the intention to become more, but not to the exclusion of what we really are.

6:40 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Steve -- It's an interesting balancing act, yes?

9:36 PM  
Blogger Pauline said...

My mother used to chant: good, better, best. Never let it rest, till your good is better and your better, best. She never compared us to anyone else but did encourage us to try to be the best we could be. There's a difference in striving to be something you're not to please someone else, and striving to be the best you, yourself, can be, don't you think?

6:32 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Pauline -- I was like your mother with my own children, always asking them to push a little farther, swim a little faster, etc. I'm now thinking all that striving is a burden. Why couldn't I just say "Enjoy yourself just as you are"?

7:36 AM  
Blogger Pauline said...

Barbara - can't you do both and simultaneously? I never felt pushed; rather I felt encouraged. I was never made to fell a failure if I didn't so something but I was always encouraged to try my best.

7:52 AM  

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