Simple Things That Add Meaning to Everyday

by Belinda Munoz on January 6, 2010

add meaning to everyday

One misnomer that has always bothered me is when the word “everyday” is used synonymously with “ordinary”.  By definition, “everyday” connotes familiarity which connotes ordinariness.  OK, I get it.

But for me, I like to view everyday with excitement.  Everyday is a renewed license to live by our own design; free to share our gifts with others and free to receive the blessings bestowed on us.

Everyday is our vast personal playground.  Where we have a shot at recapturing our authentic souls on the slides, swings and seesaws of life, just like when we were three years old.

Everyday is a new beginning.  And I have an affinity for beginnings because they are forgiving and full of promise.  And at times, I need to be forgiven and to believe in promises.  And to forgive broken promises.  And to promise to forgive myself.  And others.  But I digress.  I promised simple and simple you’ll get.  Forgive me.

Everyday, we can choose to continue doing what we love, with and for the people we love, as the kind of people we love being.  Or, we can start anew.  Remove ourselves from the unpleasantness of yesterday, bask in our resilience as Ayo at Discovering Purpose lays out, and immerse ourselves in the spirit of rebirth that Jeanne at Dream a Happy Life so eloquently describes.

This year, as part of my redesigned resolutions, I’m making a conscious effort to add meaning to everyday.  I want to honor and celebrate everyday; make everyday extraordinary; give everyday the credit it’s due.

To help me along, I’ve picked five guiding principles: kindness, gratitude, love, beauty, happiness.  Here are a few simple ways to help add meaning to everyday, in no particular order:

Kindness. Notice kindness in others toward us and look for opportunities to be kind to someone.

On my recent vacation, in a town where there were no visible convenience stores, my family popped into a restaurant to order milk for my son.  Not only did the restaurateur warmly let us in but he gave my son a cup of milk for free.  In a time of economic struggle, this was a kind gesture, something he didn’t need to do and clearly isn’t “business as usual.”

On being kind to others, one example is to listen to others talk about their personal life with no judgment, offer no correctives and just let them be themselves.  It’s a privilege to be let in to a slice of other people’s lives.

Gratitude. Give thanks for something we’re happy to have or forget we have.

Thanks to Nicki’s reflections on light, darkness, cold and warmth which reminded me that I really should be expressing gratitude more often.  I’m grateful for warm winter coats.  Paved roads that spare unwanted whiplash.  Jeans that still fit after vigorous celebrating.  Choice.  Conversation.  Drinking water.  Rights.  Community.  The list goes on…

Love. Think of someone you love and smile big if you will.  Or show/tell someone you love them.

Sometimes, I’ll be sitting alone and a thought will cross my mind about something my husband said and I’ll just start smiling.

Beauty. Witness it not just in human-made art but also in nature, others, yourself.

Beauty is so powerful.  At its simplest form, it’s stirred many souls.  And it’s everywhere and free if we open not just our eyes but also our hearts.

Happiness. Do something that brings you happiness.

Again, this doesn’t need to be complicated.  It could be as simple as taking a teeny-tiny step in the right direction toward a goal.  Or hearing a loved one’s voice.  Or reading a page of a favorite book.  Or writing this blog post 🙂

At the end of the day: ask  one or all of the following questions:
“Was I kind to someone?  Was someone kind to me?”
“Was I grateful for what I have?”
“Did I give love a chance?”
“Did I get to do something that brings me happiness?”

If there’s at least one “yes” answer, let the good feelings flow.

If the answers are “no”, there’s always tomorrow.  Another special day bursting with potential for meaning making, an innate human craving that Patty at Why Not Start Now tackles with great insight.

What about you?  Do you think everyday is special?

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Speaking of everyday, Aidan  over at Ivy League Insecurities is making every day of this week special by giving away a copy of Gretchen Rubin’s new book The Happiness Project, one of half a dozen books I picked up in the last few days.  I haven’t read it yet but Aidan, whose blog I found before Gretchen’s, wrote a very convincing review of the book that I’ve bumped it up to the top of my pile to read.  Head on over for a shot at winning a copy.

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Image by GrahamKing

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Positively Present January 6, 2010 at 6:58 am

Love this post! So inspiring! 🙂

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2 Nicki January 6, 2010 at 11:23 am

I really needed this type of a post at this moment in time. Thanks so much, Belinda!

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3 Jeanne January 6, 2010 at 12:09 pm

Five simple words, five simple concepts, what a delicious recipe, Belinda! And what a great post on living each day. “Everyday is a renewed license to live by our own design” speaks volumes. I wish everyone knew how important it is to speak in positive terms of what they want to do, rather than what they don’t want to do.

Anyway, I’m writing these words down to be where I can see them daily, as a reminder — thanks!

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4 Liberty January 6, 2010 at 1:01 pm

Yes, everyday is a new beginning! I recently had a minor accident and I dislocated my elbow. It did hurt! As a result, I am currently wearing a splint. I am thankful of what had happened (though I don’t wish to experience again nor do I want others to experience it). Everyday I learn something new and I appreciate each day. For the first three nights, my sister and brother-in-law stayed at our place to see to it that I am ok. l appreciate them being around. It does confirm my belief that I can always count on my family. I am learning to be independent given my temporary dissability:-). I symphatize with others who have major pain. I learn new skills everyday so I can still be effective at work. I see this as a blessing in disguise and am looking forward to the everyday lessons that this will bring. Thank God it was my left elbow and I am right handed!

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5 Patty - Why Not Start Now? January 6, 2010 at 1:12 pm

Such a beautiful list of questions to ask at the end of the day, Belinda. And in reading your post, I realized just how grateful I am for the opportunity to slow down and sink into your musings, your unique and special way of saying things, your fierceness for wiping the slate clean and starting each day fresh. Your writing inspires me and always leaves me with a warm glow, and I truly thank you for that. And also, thank you for your kindness in linking to me.

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6 JACQUI JONES January 6, 2010 at 2:07 pm

Absolutely – we tend to take for granted so many things, including the beauty of our wonderful planet. You are so right, every day is a chance to start afresh. Thank you x

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7 Belinda Munoz January 6, 2010 at 10:42 pm

@Dani, many thanks for the rave! When my son was a tiny newborn, the days seemed to fuse together as one long day due to exhaustion. I’d get very little sleep and get up not knowing if it was day or night, let alone what day it was. And I felt guilty because it didn’t seem like the right way to celebrate this new life. Thankfully, it didn’t take long before I started to appreciate each day more. I really think that much of how I now view everyday can be traced back to that time of, shall we say paradoxically, awakening.

@Nicki, you’re very welcome! It’s always great to see you here and I’m happy this post speaks to you.

@Jeanne, so true what you say about how important it is to speak in positive terms about what we want to do. For me, I’ve noticed that when I declare to do something in a positive way and my heart is truly in it, this simple act powers my resolve. Almost like it kick starts my momentum. I certainly know what it’s like to whine about things I don’t want to do but it’s too exhausting and joyless to approach things that way. I prefer energizing and joyful — call me a hedonist. Thanks for your soulful words here and over at your great blog!

@Liberty, nice to see you here again! Sorry about your elbow, though it sounds like you have a great attitude about it. Isn’t it amazing to know how capable we are of adjusting when we’re in a crisis? Somehow, it seems we find a way to work it out, whatever it is. We survive a lot considering how many imaginable ways we can really hurt ourselves. And it is great to have help appear when we most need it. Hope you shed the splint soon!

@Patty, thank you for your encouraging, supportive and inspirational words here and over at your great blog, and you’re welcome! These simple questions have popped up for me numerous times over the years. At some point, it occurred to me that I don’t really want to drive across another bridge, so lost in thought that I’m missing a gorgeous sunset. I don’t want to get uptight over someone being kind to me, again, because of some misguided philosophy or assumption or whatever. So I hope that these questions will help others, in some way, to find a little meaning in their days.

@Jacqui, welcome to the halfway point and thanks a bunch for your visit! I get a hit of energy when I think of things that I take for granted like a mug for my tea. What would I do without a mug or any kind of vessel for my preferred beverage? It may seem silly to others but I like to see the magic in little things.

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8 Bob Bessette January 7, 2010 at 9:51 am

Hi Belinda,
I think the older I get the more I tend to think that every day is special. It’s too bad that sometimes to realize this, you have to hear about a friend or an acquaintance who has a health issue. It is at times like these that we say to ourselves “My small problems are nothing compared to what that person is going through.” If we all just looked at each day as you so eloquently put it in this post, we would all be happier people.
Best,
Bob

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9 Sara January 7, 2010 at 11:45 am

Belinda,

I came here from Patty’s site and I’m pleased I did. What a great post. I loved how you reminded me of the real meaning of “everyday.” I also loved your five guiding principles. I think the questions you left for us are great ones to put on my refrigerator (the place where I DEFINITELY will not be able to miss them). I like the idea of asking these simple questions of myself everyday:~)

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10 Shell January 7, 2010 at 5:06 pm

Inspiring post. I do my morning thank you’s. Where i let the divine know I am thankful for all that I have. It gives an extra sparkle to the day.
I’m not on twitter. You can follow my blog if you wish..click on the panda that says feed me.
Thank you for coming over to my place and your wonderful comment.

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11 ayo January 8, 2010 at 12:54 am

Hi belinda!

I loved this post!!! and thanks for highlighting my article

I like the analogy of everyday being a renewed license……. .. .
In addition to the five principles mentioned here, I see everyday as an opportunity to remain moderately optimistic, build hope and stay strong in difficult times.

Let the good feelings flow!!!!

Take care

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12 Amit Sodha - The Power Of Choice January 8, 2010 at 4:43 am

Hey Belinda,

A lovely reminder. It reminds of the quote by proust; ‘the real voyage of discovery lies not in seeing new landscapes, but in having new eyes’. When you understand repetition and how beautiful it is, the renewal, the greatness of being in the flow. Things can really be amazing. 🙂

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13 Kaitlin McGaw January 8, 2010 at 11:46 am

Thanks to PC for sharing this with me – you are lovely!!

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14 LoloReads January 10, 2010 at 5:27 pm

Belinda, I take this as a gentle, but important reminder to to be deliberate in choosing people, activities and things worthy of occupying my life in an everyday way. Nice.

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15 Adrian Nadeau January 16, 2010 at 7:36 am

Great post Belinda! Very good reminders for everyone 🙂 Thanks.

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