Love the Ordinary. Seek the Extraordinary

By Jake Foster

I will start off with admitting that the catchy title is not my own. I stole it from Matt Chandler, a pastor at a church in Texas, while listening to one of his sermons online. After I heard Chandler use this phrase at the beginning of his message, I honestly had a hard time focusing on anything else he had to say. It was one of those short statements that you hear on a podcast, or a song, or  from a conversation with a friend, that cuts to the heart of an issue and challenges you in an area that you have been wrestling with. Chandler’s message was about finding balance between appreciating your current circumstances while continually searching for opportunities to improve them. It is a balance that is found within the heart and mind of every healthy individual, and it is one that I, like many others, struggle to find every day.

It’s best to think of this balance as a spectrum. On one side are the people that are so content with their lives that they lack the motivation or even the effort to improve it. The ordinary, rhythm of life is their comfort zone. Opportunities for advancement are disregarded as too risky and uncomfortable. On the other side of the spectrum are the people who are usually labeled as “type-As”. People, like me, who are so obsessed with chasing “extraordinary” success that they forget to enjoy the blessings of the ordinary, routine of day to day life.

In America, most of us fall on the same side of the spectrum that I do. Our culture does not understand balance. In fact we admire, even reward, workaholics. We praise those whose lives are consumed with striving for success. “You barely sleep, work countless hours, and never take a vacation? Good job! Keep chasing your dreams!” This exact statement may not even sound all that unfamiliar in our type-A dominated society. But, sooner or later, constantly working to be extraordinary comes at a cost. More often than not, the cost is to our own health.

Only seeking the extraordinary causes you to neglect the health benefits of appreciating the ordinary parts of life. One of the most ordinary routines of in life is our biological necessity to rest. Like it or not, even the most type-A, workaholic, success driven individual has to sleep everyday. Life cannot be sustained with a lack of sleep, constant work, chronic stress, and little to no relaxation. Something has to give: whether that is your mental, physical, or spiritual health. Eventually, not only will it negatively impact your own health, but your relationships and the health of those closest to you.

Like most things in life, work and rest have to be balanced. Do you have the ability to work all day in pursuit of the extraordinary, come home, rest, and find pleasure in the ordinary routine of life? If not, and if you are like myself and most Americans, use the same discipline you have to strive for success to be more disciplined in your rest. Your body, your mind, and your loved ones will be healthier because of it.