Elevate Your Normal

January 14, 2015


I’m…a guy who one-shots his coffee before it even cools down. – Psy, Gangnam Style

I recently began running in the snow wearing only a t-shirt, light pants, and my minimalist shoes. Air temperatures here in Boulder have been 34 degrees at the warmest, and down around 23 this morning.

Every morning, I look wistfully at my warm hoodie and gloves as I pull on my thin shirt and head out the door.

But when I step outside, I’m always surprised at how bearable the cold is. And when I start running, I heat up really fast. In fact, by wearing so little clothing, I heat up even more than I would otherwise as my body works to combat the cold. I find I’m actually quite comfortable.

Everyone else is bundled up (if they’re running at all) while I’m out for a refreshing morning jog in a t-shirt. I pass runners who look at me like I’m crazy.

But for me, this has become normal.

The message I’m sending myself: I’m not the kind of person who is intimidated, or even slowed down, by small discomforts. That’s my normal. That’s just how I operate now (at least in terms of bad weather).

Normal is what’s expected. It is unsurprising, and it doesn’t take a lot of effort to believe that normal is what you’re going to get.

What is normal for you? What’s your baseline, standard operating procedure?

For some people, normal is another day at the office. For others, normal is two flights and three countries in a week. For others, normal is sitting on the side of the road holding a cardboard sign. It’s not frustrating or scary. It’s not hard to believe in. It’s just normal.

Personally, for some, normal is keeping their mouth shut, playing it safe, avoiding the gym, and staying in the lines. For other people, normal is facing fears, taking on new challenges, pushing themselves, surprising themselves, and that’s just…normal.

Most people take normal at face value. They don’t think that “normal” can change, even though it probably has several times in their lives.

How can you elevate your normal?

  • Learn to solve those wicked Rubix cubes that have more than 3×3 blocks.
  • Become a nationally ranked chess player.
  • Memorize a Shakespeare play, or any other piece of classical literature.
  • Learn how to tell amazing stories to kids at the local library.
  • Commit to cooking a five course meal every night.
  • Hike up a mountain once a week.
  • Learn gymnastics or Parkour (when your normal includes the ability to do a standing backflip, you’ll gain a very different perspective on life).

None of these are that hard. They just sound hard. But with the right planning, and maybe a few lessons and a bit of practice, they become your normal.

But when you start to do them, and you find that your reality now includes a weekly hike up a mountain, or hosting a get together for your friends that becomes the cornerstone of their week, it starts to shift your perception of who you are and what you consider normal for yourself.

And when your idea of Normal is someone else’s idea of extraordinary, you inspire, you start to shift what’s possible, and you elevate the kind of person you are, and thus the kind of life you are going to lead.

And when your Normal is extraordinary, just imagine what your Exceptional could be.

Where can you shift your reality? How can you elevate your normal?


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Rafael Ayala January 23, 2015 at 3:34 am

Thanks for writing, this inspired me to write my own take on what is normal. Keep inspiring people!


Khaled January 24, 2015 at 4:50 pm

That’s awesome! Thanks


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