Welcome to the final day of our seven-day practice in which we cultivate awareness of the wonder and gift of a normal day. We invite you to close your eyes and take one or two slow, deep breaths. Now, let's begin...
Photo: Evgeni Tcherkasski/Unsplash
On this final day of our practice, we return to the wonder of a “Normal Day,” a day that unfolds much as any other day. Let us savor this normalcy and treasure it, knowing that it could be (and one day will be) otherwise. As we change our story and relationship to what we understand as normal, taking nothing for granted and opening to wonder, we can experience and express an attendant gratitude which changes us and, ultimately, changes the world…
Write down five things you feel you “have” to do in the course of a normal day or week, such as wash dishes, pay bills, or commute to work. Now, write those same things with the first three words, “I get to,” and end with, “when so many people cannot.” Notice how it feels to view your responsibilities as blessings or privileges and say, “Wow, thank you.” Observe how this practice makes you feel, noticing any sensations or emotions that arise.
How does reframing normal tasks and moments with wonder and appreciation impact you?
What have you come to learn, love, and savor more deeply through these days of practice?
How might you continue to treasure your normal days through a lens of wonder and gratitude?
Should you be inspired, please leave a reflection below…
This practice is inspired by Mary Jean Irion’s sublime meditation A Normal Day. Explore the full seven-day A Normal Day practice.
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I was in very disturbing, scary, anxious, depressing circumstances, which were out of my control, due to the illness and death of my husband, and trying to navigate through the aftermath for a few years, which really took a toll on me, but I also learned and grew a lot. I’m now daily focused on gratefulness, appreciative of everything, being spiritually aware, awake, and receptive, content in whatever situation or circumstances, balance, tolerance, kindness, respect, and being as gentle as possible. I still don’t have a home of my own, but I do get to be with my daughter (my son died when he was 20), and my grandchildren. I do get to be retired after working for almost 50 years. I do get to do some things that I enjoy. For everything I am grateful. I took the 7 days of wonder practice because I have been trying so hard to comprehend the concept that “being alive” is so wonderful, but life has dealt me with a lot of painful blows, so I feel like I have been maybe trying too hard to “get it”; however, I think I might be a bit closer to connecting with this concept after going through the practices. It’s like I understand it logically, but I struggle with it emotionally due to so many sad and hard things that happened and some still are. It’s very good though to still push through and do the good things and I really appreciate the reframing reference which is very helpful in coping and continuing to do my best with whatever Normal Life I have at any point in time. I personally love Normal and have a very deep grateful and appreciative feeling and attitude in that regard. Thank you God.
Hmmm, normalcy can feel like a calming round of breath. Just got news of a friend with a medical diagnosis requiring surgery and radiation. A young woman with young children.
The news makes me weary and I feel easily distracted.
Remembering to calmly breathe brings the simplicity and the refuge of normal in any given moment, whether exhilarating or trying in some way. It is an offering of normalcy I can make for my friend as well.
I apologize if this sounds very rude, but in the course of a “normal” day we make use of toilets and toilet paper regularly. Sound awful right? But when you rephrase: I get to do those things when so many people cannot, it makes you aware of the many types of pestilence and diseases affecting people living in states of extreme poverty where amenities like toilets, toilet paper, sceptic tanks and plumbing are not available. —This is very good practice. Makes one feel grateful for even the most simple and mundane of things we make use of every single day. And yes I feel blessed, but I am also being made aware of the need to help my brothers and sisters who are not so.
Your comment about toilets and toilet paper really hit home. And I’m not only thinking of people in third world countries. I was visiting a friend who is battling colon cancer, and was in hospital and could no longer make it to toilet independently, and so was diapered. She talked about how tough this was, and then told me a story of another relative who was in a care home for many years, and needing help with everything, including toileting and diapering. This relative had told her that she hoped that when she got to heaven they’d have real toilets and she’d be able to use them independently. It doesn’t matter if you belief in Heaven, nor what should be there if it does exist. What really spun my head around was that just simply going to the toiltet could be considered heavenly by someone. The next day my roof leaked. Which might have stressed me out significantly before. But, now I thought: “No big deal”. Just thinking about other people’s situations.
Thank you for your thoughtful reflection ❤️
I thought the very same thing! Man, does it change one’s perspective!
I appreciate how fortunate I am compared to others who may be ill, disabled, enduring or poverty. I take for granted the ‘normal’ things that sometimes I resent doing, but actually they are a privilege .
Reading the posts has been most inspiring. Thanks to all. Journeying through this course has been life-giving.
Just a thought or two on Jean Houston’s quote, intellectualization, above. Of course, just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should do it even once. The fruits of traditional ‘organizing’ have been over-rated; and we see this in the decades long backsliding away from democracy, etc., in the usa. People aren’t files and don’t necessarily grow through being ‘organized’. Every cause has numerous effects, most of which aren’t even of interest to most people; yet, those effects usually determine, in unison, the opposite of what the person ‘intended’. Why is this, a lack of critical thinking and/or the ability to, for the most part. So, it’s a fine fairytale, “…you change the world.”, everything changes every millisecond regardless of anything anyone will do, or won’t. So, the inference is that it’s a great desire to “change the world”, and this is true; as well as many other desires. The question is, should it be a desire at all? For desires usually realize the opposite of the intended result; not because of lack of intention, rather, due to the intent being unproportional, not wholistic, organic, etc.. Also, almost everybody “wants to change the world”, and many of them to “rule it” as well. A babe’s cry, for example. Now, with a trillion ton ice cube being dropped in the drink at our North Pole 6 months ago, etc., the results of humanity’s wanting to change the world are extremely evident to most everyone; and most of them agree that they don’t want the extremes of the climate crisis changes that all have premeditatedly determined. Yes, the adage is accurate, ‘the road to hell is paved with good intentions’, yet, that has nothing to do with the wonders of change; everything to do with the choices, and lack thereof, of each person. A mundane example would be a politician declaring “a revolution” in 2015, and the exact polar opposite of anything that person would project as revolutionary actually took place; and still is in a determinedly compounded way. Ergo, Gandhi taught, “be the changes you want to see in the world”, so, one’s living those changes informs their choices of what those changes should and could be, naturally; reality, itself teaching each changer so they only become more accurate in their choosing which changes- directing their change, ship (instead of allowing many others to do it instead). “Change the story and you change perception; change perception…”, Houston. Wanting to change someone else’s perception is a thought crime against them. Why would anyone want someone else to think like them? Is one going to live in a (fake) Mars Colony and is so enthralled by their own thoughts that they want to change a vital human being, evolving as they direct, into a replicant machine part, regurgitating what one thinks and perceives so Earth will still have a replicant of them? Of course, there’s not a thing wrong with sharing, informing, exchanging ideas, even teaching, yet, never limiting another’s perception by having them perceive as you do. Isn’t it just too easy to “…change the story…”, especially nowadays, with everybody unbecoming a ‘news source’, ‘pundit’, ‘brand’, ‘marketing strategy’, etc.? Yet, what has it valued life and the Earth itself, that people have been convinced that it’s of value to all have their own realities; projecting that there actually isn’t one? Professor Memesy and his Memes defining that life is definable, therefore everyone can make their own world up? Looking around, we see exigency having replaced humanity, etc., by the supposed magic of lying, and supposedly more powerful magic of pathological lying, and most powerful, supposedly, of extreme pathological lying? These projections of intellects are the height of the corporate structure’s convolutionary thought, yet, “…we(e),…” know that the intellect can’t lead, as the life does not follow. It will take each one reaching one and teaching them, being part of the wonder of the normal day for all, to turn 360 degrees around, back to the evolution and future, humanity will only have if we do; walking in nature’s balance, giving back to her abundance- to stop the premeditated murder of 7.5 billion people, which is the results, in reality, of most of what every technocracy’s citizenry does daily. Great struggling against humancentricity (and their criminal insanity) in this workshop; thanx for all you All do. Perspective is very important in art, including the art of living (Fromm). If you’re not taking bullets you’re making them. That perspective evolving within one, is growing in the evolution. The ways are like staircases to heaven, not the rock kind, rather, actual. Remembering that heart’s like the wind moves, only everything and nothing at all, also nowhere as well as everywhere, at once, on a daily basis during our normal days, enlivens as well ? reality
I am coming up on the anniversary of my brother’s discharge from the hospital last year, after 3 weeks stay following surgery to remove a large brain tumor. He was diagnosed on a Saturday and in surgery prep three days later. The first week he was in a medically induced coma, on a ventilator in Neuro ICU. The other two weeks he was in Neuro critical care, before being discharged to his home. The city got hit twice with unusually heavy snow storms during all that. I was primary care giver, but because I had very little sick leave, I had to go to work, and then after work to the hospital to see my brother and get daily report from medical team. Because of the bad weather, I would either catch a bus or walk to the hospital and then home. That three weeks was like a strange time warp.
A year later, my work day today was remarkably normal. My brother’s workday was remarkably normal. There is a comfort and stability to abide in, that comes from getting up, getting ready for the day, fixing some coffee and a bite to eat, feeding the cat, going to work, attending to tasks at hand, returning home, fixing dinner, hanging out on the couch with the cat and then loading up the dishwasher before winding down and getting ready for bed. This normal day, compared to my day 365 days ago, feels simply luxurious. I know that things can and do change in an instant, and what we refer to as normal can be an absolute treasure.
This type of practice is so helpful. I used to teach my daughter, “I get to” not “I have to”… I’m so glad to be reminded of it again. I’ve slipped.
Working (at that time) in Thai prisons with inmates who had 50 to 80 year sentences for small infractions, and in hospitals with those in end of life, I’d often reminded myself how they’d love to have an opportunity to do the mundane or even some of the things I considered challenging. Such a good reality check.
I get to walk to the subway, almost everyday, when so many people
will drive or take the bus. I treat it like an adventure or a opportunity to be outside, and become more aware of nature and my surroundings.
I savour the unknown in these walks, and how I can customize my walk to the weather or elements, a fast walk, or simply a slow walk to watch an amazing wintery sunset before my eyes.
Wonderful in its simplicity, this has been one of my favorite meditations. With gratitude ~ Bob P.
Cup of coffee at the couch, I glanced out the window and noticed a patch of sunlight through the clouds, then turned to today’s email and read of not taking a moment for granted. I turned my ipad down and looked through the window again; watched while the clouds closed up the sky. Out another window, light pushes through, the day playfully arising.
Moments of choosing. Just to be reminded to take two slow breaths – wow, thank you!
This Normal Day practice has been SO beneficial in helping me to treasure and savor each precious moment and be more present and attuned to all the gifts given to us. I have just re-read again parts of your current posted blog, “This love poem living through you”. Who knew a heart could hold so much love! Gratefulness.org thank-you for this practice and this entire site!!! I wish words could express what I am feeling, but they cannot and I hope what my heart is saying comes through. Namaste. God bless you.???
Reframing my normal tasks changes how I look at them. They become less of a chore/burden and more like an opportunity or gift.
The past days of practice have helped me to begin to see each day, with all it holds, as a gift that I can receive and embrace. Being more aware of all that it holds and wondering causes me to be more grateful.
I will continue to stop and look. Reframe my “chores”, use time waiting to take in my surroundings and be more present when interacting with others.
this has been a wonderful exercise.
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