“The Ordinary, simply by being so ordinary, tends to make us ignorant or neglectful; when something does not insist on being noticed, when we aren’t grabbed by the collar or struck on the skull by a presence or an event, we take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.” ~ Cynthia Ozick, in her homily titled “The Riddle of the Ordinary” …
It is easy for us to take the ordinary for granted–after all, it is so commonplace and expected in our lives. And yet, just like a car that never breaks down, or the child who is never out of line, when we neglect or take for granted the ordinary and expected things in life, they tend to deteriorate and fall apart or feel neglected and lonely. Such things and people deserve our gratitude and attention, yet the truth is that we often do indeed take them for granted instead.
Many times in life, it is these “lack of attention-grabbing things” that have the greatest impact in our lives and thus should truly be the most important to us. The close friend who is always there, the toilet that flushes smoothly and does not clog, the dishwasher that does not break down, the computer that lasts for several years, the co-worker that is always dependable and reliable–these individuals and things are deserving of our utmost gratitude and appreciation, for they help our day-to-day lives run smoothly which keeps our stress levels and obstacles at a minimum. But when we are constantly focused on the problems and the negatives, we forget to be thankful for everything that is positive and going well in our lives.
So much of life tends to work this way–our child’s birthday party that goes without a hitch, the family vacation we had planned for summer that fits into the calendar and our budget, the drive to work or school we make each morning, the meals we eat each day. We do not have to be anxious or worried about any of these things because they do not require our attention like the party that has problems, or the vacation that overlaps work, or the commute to work or school where our car breaks down and we are late, or the meal that is ruined because we burnt it or added too much of some ingredient.
When we expect things… rarely do we see them as the gifts that they truly are. Yet when we let gratitude be the center of our lives–developing it, growing it, and strengthening it–we start to recognize the things in our lives that really do deserve our appreciation and thanks, and we come to understand how blessed our lives truly are.
Take notice of everyone and everything that has gone right today, and show gratitude and thanks to them.
Questions to consider:
Why do we tend to be more thankful for some things than for others?
Think about the last few times you have felt deep gratitude. Does it tend to happen after some sort of trying event, or on a daily basis with the ordinary things that you have and go through?
Name two strategies for actively developing our sense of gratitude.
For further thought:
“Can you see the holiness in those things you take for granted–a paved road or a washing machine? If you concentrate on finding what is good in every situation, you will discover that your life will suddenly be filled with gratitude, a feeling that nurtures the soul.” ~ Rabbi Harold Kushner