Remember To Treasure The Ordinary

When everyone you know is wealthy, it is easy to forget how lucky you are to have what you have. Even if you don’t think you are wealthy, if you are reading this, you probably are rich compared to millions who don’t have the benefit of computers, the internet or even electricity. If you have eaten recently and have clean water to drink and wash with; if the air you breathe is clean, you are doing better than many. If you have a roof over your head, that’s something to be grateful for. If you can speak your opinion freely and can go where you want when you want to, you can count yourself fortunate.

It is easy to take for granted those wonders that have become commonplace in this miraculous age. You can read. How amazing is that? You lived through birth, infancy, childhood diseases, accidents, maybe surgeries. Perhaps you have the ability to see clearly because of corrective lenses. It wasn’t long ago that the odds would have been against these things happening to an ordinary person.

To be an ordinary human in this age is remarkable. But then to be an ordinary human in any age has always been remarkable. To have binary vision, an opposable thumb, upright gait, speech, smooth skin, sensitive fingers, and a brain like no other species, these would be the envy of other species, if they had the capacity to envy. Which we do. We get to have complex emotions, which don’t always seem to be a boon, but they offer the possibility of experiencing love in its many flavors. We get to experience beauty, awe, laughter, sensuality, and connectedness. We even have ideas. True, many of them are wrong, but thinking is a precious capacity if used responsibly.

There are tradeoffs of course. In order to have fingers that can pick up a grain of rice, we lost the claws. In order to eat almost anything and form words, we lost the fangs, and because we got this nice sensual skin instead of hide, we are chewy to predators. So we are a nervous species. We are by nature alert to danger, and we remember what has hurt us in the past. Our big brains can get overly busy and keep us from relaxing. We learn really quickly, so we easily form habits that enable us to not have to think at all about much of what we do. So what we do can become quite complex. In its complexity, our culture can lose its naturalness, and we have to be taught to relax and be natural. Sometimes we need to be reminded to cultivate gratitude.

Gratitude isn’t just justified. It is pragmatic. When you activate gratitude, you turn off parts of your brain that are working on distress. Gratitude and compassion together open the doors to the experience of joy.

So remind yourself often to be grateful, to slow down and to be calm. Notice the many blessings you receive in this incarnation. Remember them. List them. Write about them. Live in gratitude. Treasure the ordinary.

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© 2010 Tom Barrett