Have you ever noticed the simplest and most obvious things are the hardest to see? The more immersed we get in the daily grind, the more these simple things go unnoticed. I know I’m so guilty of this. Today I ran across a blog entry where someone wrote:
“Nothing special happened today.”
I felt her. But then that little voice inside rang out.
“Are you sure nothing special happened today? Did you really pay attention?”
Truth is, no I didn’t.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “special” as follows:
: distinguished by some unusual quality; especially : being in some way superior <our special blend>
So when we’re looking for something special to happen, we’re expecting something distinguishable from the usual stuff; something that shines a little happiness or excitement and yanks us out of the rut. This is saying two things about our usual personal outlook:
- We’ve already decided our life has no happiness or excitement.
- We’ve set the bar pretty high when it comes to “something special” happening.
No wonder we end up disappointed. We already set the expectation for it. I was expecting the heavens to open up with trumpets blaring and a big shiny “something” to drop out of the sky all for my delight. Sound silly? It is.
The truth is we’re swimming in a sea of special somethings. They’re all around us. They’re just too subtle, too simple, too obvious to see. We walk right over them blinded by bigger expectations.
How do we find these elusive “somethings?” Mindfulness. This may not be a term you’re familiar with. It has its roots in Buddhist philosophy but you don’t have to be a Buddhist to understand it or use it. To be mindful quite literally means to be inclined to be aware.
We think we are aware, but stop and ponder how much is there we’re not aware of? Truth is, a lot. How many of us woke in the morning and noticed the birds singing despite the cold bleakness outside the window? How many took a moment to appreciate the bliss of that first sip of coffee and how it warmed us? As we greeted our neighbors, did we notice the beauty of their smile or the happiness meant just for us in the wagging tail of a dog?
If we can just shift our awareness slightly to the more subtle things around us, become more mindful, we’ll suddenly find all our days overflowing with special somethings.
Some of my regular readers know I’ve been participating in a daily creative writing exercise in mindfulness. It’s been an amazing and rewarding experience in guiding me to be more aware of all special somethings I take for granted. It’s called River of Stones. What it encourages is noticing a little something you might otherwise take for granted and really examine it. Appreciate it. Then write about it. That’s all there is to it. What you end up with is a little piece called a small stone. I post mine here daily. I encourage you to visit the Writing Our Way Home blog where the River of Stones originates. It’s a beautiful place.
When this month ends I’ll continue to write them. It’s become part of a spiritual practice reminding me daily that happiness is found inside me in how I view the world. It’s not something that haphazardly falls from the sky and announces “this is special.” Everything is special if you have the ability to see it.
If you want to find these hidden gems for yourself, try this small stone exercise. You don’t have to have any gift with words to do it. It’s really for no one but you. I know it changed everything for me. If I had one wish for the world, it would be that it embraces mindfulness. I think it would be a much different existence, but then I’m an idealist.