Life can seem so ordinary at times. Since being retired, the days seem to run together, one being just like the next. There is no workplace to be every day that can punctuate each day with events. I have discovered, though, that the secret to being happily retired is to find the extraordinary in the ordinary. I like was Steven Charleston says about that.
I look for God when I do the dishes, I search for the Spirit as I take out the trash. The sacred is revealed in brilliant light only rarely, in the flash of some great insight unexpected, but much more than this the holy is to be discovered in our daily lives, in the moments when we are simply being ourselves. Putting the kids to bed, working in the garden, sitting on the porch in the evening: the beauty of eternity is that it hides in plain sight all around us. We are all prophets of the predictable pattern, witnesses to the wonder of the average day.
– Steven Charleston
Finding wonder in the average day is not as easy as it sounds. It requires mindfulness. Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, yet not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us. Mindfulness helps us put some space between ourselves and our reactions, breaking down our conditioned responses. Here are some practical ways to be more mindful:
1) Set aside some time. You don’t need a meditation cushion or bench, or any sort of special equipment to access your mindfulness skills—but you do need to set aside some time and space.
2) Observe the present moment as it is. The aim of mindfulness is not quieting the mind, or attempting to achieve a state of eternal calm. The goal is simple: we’re aiming to pay attention to the present moment, without judgement.
3) Let your judgements roll by. When we notice judgements arise, we can make a mental note of them, and let them pass.
4) Return to observing the present moment as it is. Our minds often get carried away in thought. That’s why mindfulness is the practice of returning, again and again, to the present moment.
5) Be kind to your wandering mind. Don’t judge yourself for whatever thoughts crop up, just practice recognizing when your mind has wandered off, and gently bring it back.
Winnie the Pooh gives us one of the best pieces of advice about making an ordinary day extraordinary.
What day is it?” asked Pooh. “It’s today,” squeaked Piglet. “My favourite day,” said Pooh.
So here’s to extraordinary days!