1.with no special or distinctive features; normal. what is commonplace or standard.
“he sets out to depict ordinary people”
synonyms: usual, normal, standard, typical, common, customary, habitual, everyday, regular, routine, day-to-day
antonyms: extraordinary, unusual, exceptional.
Have you ever thought about striving to be ordinary? Being “commonplace” or “standard” or “routine”? Probably not. We all want to be extraordinary in some way. We admire the truly extra-ordinary people – those that amaze us with their abilities, their fame, their looks or their riches. That makes sense. Being greater than ordinary should be our goal. Being an “ordinary” parent? Nah. An ordinary golfer? Nope. An ordinary person at a party? Dull. Having dinner at an ordinary restaurant? Sounds like a waste of money.
But I want to challenge you to think about ordinary in a different way today. Reflect on the person who is going through a health issue. Do you believe they would prefer an “ordinary” day? How about the individual who has a family member overseas in a military capacity. Think they might like a “normal” day? Someone who has lost their job would gladly take back the “ordinary days” of being at work. “Extraordinary” or “exceptional” sounds great most of the time. But . . . isn’t ordinary really great also?
Can’t ordinary be great – some of the time – also?
Ordinary is easy – but it is also hard. From a personal standpoint, it ought to be “ordinary” for me to kiss my spouse goodnight. Or talking with your kids. That ought to be “ordinary”, regular or standard. How about for all of us? Holding the door for someone who has a bundle in their arms. Waving at the neighbor as we drive away. Thanking the waitress for delivering your food. Those should all be normal, commonplace or standard activities. Ordinary. But the person who does them well is a person who has a great grasp of life. And how few us of really practice those ordinary tasks each and every day, with a smile on our face?
“There’s a pleasure in being reminded of the value of an ordinary life” – Karen Thompson Walker
It is great to have aspirations for extraordinary things in our life. The great vacation is what we rightly strive for. Some of us would say life is great owning the expensive, flashy (non-standard) car. Receiving a big dollar bonus for doing a great job at work. Living in a great house with our own “man cave”. Having people defer to us all of the time. But isn’t one of the flaws of having the best all the time? At some point in time, consistently getting something great becomes ordinary. I’ve read many stories of people who win the lottery and have momentary excitement, but eventually are less satisfied. It’s a type of “hedonic adaption” wherein a person who makes more money, expectations and desires rise in tandem, which results in no permanent gain in happiness.
Here is the challenge for all of us. We get caught up in our own minds. We want to do the extraordinary. We want to stand out. Getting accolades for doing something well feels great. How about trying to do something really revolutionary, really hard? Doing the common actions, consistently, every day, is hard. Focusing on the ordinary, the simple, the commonplace takes a lot of attention, a lot of the time. It is hard to REMEMBER to do the ordinary. But the ordinary builds up goodwill over time.
- The consistently-friendly person who we love to run into because we know we will feel good after seeing them.
- The couple who has been married a long time, yet still shows their love and care for each other, are a delight.
- The individual at work who does their job, day in and day out, is someone we want on our team.
- The mail carrier or the waitress or the hair stylist that goes about doing their job in a pleasant way.
- Someone who makes our life easier or more pleasant, not by doing something extraordinary, but by doing some day-to-day routine task.
Those are all standard activities – they are ORDINARY – but done consistently and genuinely. We smile when we think of people who fit one of those categories above. Sometimes we wish we could be just like them.
The neat trick is, we can!
How might you be more ordinary?