It’s so easy to take the day-to-day events of lives for granted. We tend to do many of the same, mundane things over and over again as part of our daily routines. Much of the time we probably don’t even give a lot of thought to—much less appreciate—what we are doing.
Think of the things you do nearly every day, whether it’s at home, work or somewhere else. Unless you’re living the life of a rock star or jet-setter, it’s these small, simple moments that likely make up the majority of your waking hours.
The ordinary in most cases is not the spectacular, so it doesn’t inspire us to feel gratitude or much else. How many people get excited about something like brushing their teeth or eating breakfast?
Not surprisingly, even the term “mundane” has a negative connotation. Look at some similar words: humdrum, dull, boring, tedious, monotonous, repetitive. Many people use the expression, “same old, same old” when someone asks them how they’re doing, indicating that things are the same as ever. It kind of implies a sense of monotony.
But here’s the thing. When the ordinary, day-to-day routine suddenly gets turned on its head, we can find ourselves appreciating it in ways we never expected.
Recently I had to go to the hospital for a sudden medical issue. I stayed for five days, which was a considerably shorter stay than my previous hospital visits. But it got me thinking about how much I appreciated ordinary time at home.
At the hospital, all of a sudden I was living in a different place. I was sleeping in a different bed, eating different—and not always great—food. Sometimes it was noisy, or the lights were too bright. During one long stretch of time, I was prohibited from eating or drinking anything prior to having a procedure.
It’s not that the hospital is such a dreadful place. As a nurse pointed out to a disgruntled patient who was none too pleased to be there, we should be thankful that hospitals exist for when we need them. But an experience like this takes away some of our freedoms, independence, and routines. We’re out of our comfort zone, and eager to get back into it.
Something like this hospital visit reminds me that maybe those ordinary, seemingly drab days aren’t so bad. Every once in a while we need to stop and feel thankful for the mundane and the simple in life. We need to treasure those little moments, even if they might not be particularly exciting.
The ordinary and routine do not have to be negatives. We can find graces in the familiar; we just need to look for them. Day-to-day routines can also serve as a nice contrast to the more exciting things we do in our lives.
There are even potential health benefits to having daily routines. These include stress reduction, improved sleep and the ability to plan a healthy diet. Having routines is especially important in situations such as addiction recovery, bipolar disorder and other mental health problems.
It’s the simple and the ordinary in life that we need to celebrate. Sometimes it’s good to rejoice in the mundane. Those quiet, ordinary activities—getting chores done, finishing a work assignment, reading a book or magazine, browsing the Internet, watching the sunset or sunrise, taking a walk in the neighborhood, doing a puzzle, or just sitting outside and soaking up the sun—can be a blessing that we all too often take for granted.
“Let us come alive to the splendor that is all around us and see the beauty in ordinary things”—Thomas Merton
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