Sharing my learnings from the book, The Unexpected Joy of the Ordinary by Catherine Gray
The Unexpected Joy of the Ordinary by Catherine Gray
Catherine Gray was a grandmaster in the art of eye-rolling the ordinary, and skilled in everlasting reaching. Until the black dog of depression forced her to re-think everything.
Along the way, she discovered some surprising realities about the extraordinaries among us: that influencers risk higher rates of anxiety and depression and high-rollers are less happy.
- being extraordinary isn’t always better. Living an ordinary life is something to celebrate, not fear.
- evolution has primed you to be relentlessly negative. Neuroscientist Dr. John Cacioppo carried out a study in which he concluded that negative information seems to trigger a greater mental response. Other studies have found that we’re quicker to spot an angry face in a crowd than a cheerful one. This phenomenon is called anger superiority effect. But why are we so negative? The answer lies in our evolutionary past and a region of our brain called the amygdala.
- our pleasure is more intense when it’s interrupted, rather than constant. Acquiring things is more pleasurable than possessing things. The rise of so called Decluttering experts is proof that we still find it stressful to have many things. So the next time you’re craving new clothes or other goods, remember that less is truly more.
- We’re often told that it’s important to have high self esteem. Not only that, those of us who experience self-doubt feel like there’s something wrong with them. But there’s a good reason to be grateful for only having middling levels of self-esteem. As it turns out, people with very high self-esteem tend to have some unpleasant characteristics (narcissism, prejudiced against ethnic minorities).
- Anxiety is a perfectly natural emotion. To reduce it, remember the big picture. Anger is also natural and useful. Anger lets you know when your boundaries have been crossed or when you need to make a change to your environment or your relationships.
- Trying to maintain too many close friendships doesn’t make us happy at all. Instead, it creates a psychological pressure known as role strain. Evolutionary psychologists believe that human beings are only really capable of having one or two best friends and no more than five close friends.
- you might also feel that your romantic relationship isn’t as extraordinary as the ones you see plastered all over social media. One study, which included over a hundred couples, found that the more people promoted their love lives on social media, the less secure they felt about their relationships.
- having an extraordinary amount of money won’t buy you joy. So if you accept that it’s the little things that count, then, amazingly, it seems to make no difference whether you’re living with huge wealth or severe disability.
- it’s not that money attracts happiness into your life, it’s more that happiness attracts money.
- high IQ and lofty intellectual ambition aren’t all that important. Over time, children with high IQs became unsatisfied with their lives. When psychologists followed up with them decades later, many reported feeling as if they hadn’t lived up to what was expected of them.
- Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Your relationship with your body is anything but joyful. So while being an extraordinary gym bunny might be good, being an ordinary person who simply enjoys walking or running is even better. So- celebrate your ordinariness.