Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Expand beyond the ordinary

The past two nights, we’ve had visitors from Japan. Two delightful young women, musicians who play clarinet, were visiting the states as part of an exchange program at my daughter’s high school. It was their first time in America and they spoke very little English.

We enjoyed learning more about each other, in that awkward way you do when you end up drawing pictures of homes and making candy to convey your living arrangements and interests. It was a great experience, in part because we wanted to share with them something they couldn’t find back home. 

Our experiences included going out for pizza, which we learned is not something new in Japan where kids will often go to Pizza Hut, visiting the All Chocolate Kitchen in a neighboring town and watching the award-winning light show at a home covered in Christmas decorations that lit up every aspect of their home to the tune of 12 different songs.

In return, they shared with us what a symphony sounds like when students have been playing instruments since they were four – it was beautiful – and how to make sushi candy. All-in-all a very nice visit.

This whole experience reminded me how important it is to do things outside of your ordinary day. When we do the same thing every day -- getting up to go to work, email, meetings, lunch, email, meetings, dinner, tv, bed – it’s easy to get into a pattern of sameness. If that pattern includes any negativity – a meeting that went poorly, a frustrating email, a disappointing lunch – it can begin to feel like every day is not only the same, but bound to bring down your energy. You become out of balance.

By doing something out of the ordinary – breaking your pattern – you give yourself permission to get back into balance. We are not one-dimensional. We have amazing minds, vast interests, beautiful dreams and emotions capable of taking us to incredible heights. We can thrive on a little delight, an uplifting moment, a shared smile – when we look beyond what’s right in front of us.

It doesn’t have to take a lot of effort. As with the chocolate restaurant, it can be introducing people to a place you enjoy and seeing it through their eyes. Or, it can be looking at your home town from a tourist’s perspective to see what little gems are only a short drive away. It can even be learning to make something completely knew that others are excited to share. All of these things can help you level set – focus less on the “have to’s” and “should have’s” of the day and bring in the “want to’s” and “glad you did’s.”

So look beyond the ordinary. You’ll find not only a way out of a pattern, but a way into balance.

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