Whenever I think about my purpose for Coffee On Sunday, it’s exactly this: to embrace finding joy in the ordinary. To appreciate a really great coffee, or revel in the comfort of freshly cleaned sheets. To find the luxury in the little things. And to celebrate normal everyday life, and the adventures that come along the way.
Times like this (self-isolating during a pandemic) especially show us how lucky we are to live normal days. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss how things used to be. But finding joy in the ordinary is what’s really pulling me through, and it’s what I try to look for no matter the circumstances. Some times are harder than others, but I firmly believe that the more we look to appreciate the little things, the more they become apparent to us.
I’ve talked about finding gratitude in the little things, but I want this post to be more about how to do that. How to find joy in the ordinary. I’m able to put things into perspective with these practices. They help me come back to earth when my mind won’t stop with ‘what ifs’ and ‘whens.’ They generally just make me a happier me.
principle one: take things slower
I am a type 7 enneagram, an ‘enthusiast.’ This will likely mean nothing to you, but understanding this about myself has made me aware of a character trait I’ve never quite been able to articulate before. As a type 7, I’m always looking forward to later, to different possibilities, to what might be coming my way. While it might help me prepare for the future, it also means I’m not always living for right now.
By intentionally working on taking things slower day to day (putting my phone away, going for a walk, not making plans for a weekend, just opening the windows and reading a book), I’m able to focus on all the wonderful things of right now, no matter how ‘small’ or ‘ordinary’ they may seem. When you stop running at 100 miles an hour all the time, everything else can come into focus.
principle two: enjoy your coffee
The Europeans have it right: coffee should be sipped slowly on a patio at 4pm on a Tuesday afternoon.
Of course, this exact scenario isn’t always possible. However the practice of truly enjoying a coffee (or tea, or whatever beverage it is you normally find yourself rushing through) allows us to appreciate what’s in front of us and see value in what’s otherwise considered a basic need (we need coffee to get through Monday mornings, after all). Instead of gulping your coffee back in a matter of minutes, wrap your hands around your mug and feel the warmth of a fresh brew, sip it slowly, and give it the respect it deserves. (I think you can see the metaphor here).
principle three: take an afternoon off
Give yourself grace and take an afternoon off. Your days don’t need to be filled to the brim with excitement and productivity. You can do nothing but read one afternoon, or sit on your patio listening to the sounds of your neighbourhood. Or you can get lost on a walk, or in a potential new hobby, or in a documentary.
Give yourself more time to explore the little things. It’s as simple as that.
principle four: unplug
I feel more connected when I’m not connected. I think this is something we all know to be true. Whether you’re watching Netflix with your significant other, enjoying dinner with friends, or you’re out for a walk solo, putting your phone away allows you to give full attention to whatever you’re doing and whoever you’re with. We’re so much more receptive to finding joy when we can unplug for a little while.
principle five: share the little things with the people you love
There is something so wonderful and comforting about sharing ‘ordinary’ things with people you love. Making a simple pasta dish for yourself is nice; making a simple pasta dish and inviting a family member over for dinner to enjoy that dish with you is a beautiful way to spend quality time together. Picking up a latte at your favourite coffee shop before work is nice; calling your best friend to meet you at your favourite coffee shop and chatting for a few hours over a latte is an amazing way to spend an afternoon. ‘Ordinary’ is wonderful when enjoyed together, whether that can be done in physical proximity or over a video call.
We all find joy in different ways and in different places, but I think these five practices for finding joy in the ordinary are universal. It’s all about being present and slowing down so we can see the beauty in ordinary things. And we all deserve that.
What are some ways you find joy in the ordinary?