I was teaching a group of teachers whose longing for life shines forth from their eyes as we sat in a circle and talked about how yoga is in all things in all ways at all times.
And then it happened.
I heard myself say it.
“Normal is dysfunctional.”
It was a reply to a comment from a brilliant soul, a mother, a dreamer, a powerful woman entering her middle years; “I just want to be normal.” I saw her longing and I remembered feeling that way myself… a long time ago in another world I once referred to as “my life”.
When we are surrounded by “normal”, we want it. It’s almost all we can see, and do everything we can to get it. We want the house, the retirement account, and the fashionable haircut for ourselves. We want to be invited to the neighborhood social. We want to be popular like we were in high school but with different things at stake. We want our living room and our closet organization to be Pinterest-worthy.
Image by Alicja Colon
But we find out, eventually, that when we get those things, those “normal” things that everyone wants, they aren’t quite what we thought they’d be. And we don’t quite feel like we hoped we would having gotten them. We are happy, sure. For a moment, but then it wanes, and there’s a “new normal”… lurking, ready to get us running again.
And then, things really don’t go as planned: one day you wake up with a fever that develops into something bigger, or get a phone call that rocks your world, or you walk downstairs in your silk pajamas, into your picture perfect living room and find that the new puppy has chewed the side off of the couch you just bought on credit.
And all that happy slips out the back door, unapologetically.
No warning. No way to keep it. Just Gone.
I’m gonna give it to you straight.
Normal isn’t healthy.
Normal is going to keep you chasing the next new nail polish color, diet trend, handheld device, or after school curriculum for your kid, or even more sneakily, it will keep you chasing the latest parenting style or self-help Guru.
Let’s face it. Normal doesn’t fill us with what we want most. Not really.
Why not? Because Normal is filled with looking for happiness outside of ourselves, striving to fit in, keeping the peace in the family, being the “good girl”, and not getting too “weird” or presumably selfish or indulgent.
Normal keeps you busy doing mundane things for others while you are stuffing your exhaustion, foregoing self-care for a Grande Americana and two ibuprofen.
But you’re okay. Or so you’ll keep telling yourself.
“Normal” is in the business of constantly bombarding you with finding some misnomer of value in a busy, bouncy, juice box and fruit snacks, superficial, intoxicated, numbed-out world.
Normal doesn’t function.
— it is dysfunctional —
:: and it has the power to destroy us ::
But sometimes, because the stars align or something, you’ll never know for sure, shifts….
You wake up one day and say YES to the things that move you.
You say YES to taking the morning off work and walking through the park and barren sidewalks, picking what others call weeds to place in a small vase in your kitchen window. You say YES to planting raspberries against the sunny side of your garage and inviting your girlfriends over to make jam and talk about the dreams they want to resurrect in their lives. You say YES to being the not-so-normal mom who won’t bring prepackaged treats to soccer practice, and instead, you send the TV in your kitchen to the homeless shelter and replace it with your iPod playing Tina Malia or Trevor Hall so you can fill your heart with goodness while you smear heaping tablespoons of unsweetened peanut butter to the inside edge of a mason jar and fill the remaining space with apple slices.
You lug your peanut butter and apple filled mason jars to soccer practice and ask the kids to gather round for snack time.
THAT is NOT normal.
Image by Jordan Whitt
But it gets worse/better.
You start making your own sugar scrubs and milk baths and refuse to put anything on your body that you wouldn’t consume. You replace your fancy lotion with organic sesame oil, and you, more often than not, replace your evening cocktail with sparkling water, lime and bitters.
THAT is NOT normal.
And you slowly begin to realize…. that the peace you seek lives within you. That the happiness you’ve been chasing is tethered to the energy you live forth through your hands as you pick berries, and run your fingers through your little one’s hair with conversation about friendships and nature filling the air. And you realize that your happiness comes from your morning journal and meditation time, your sipping tea in the silent wee hours of the morning time before you practice yoga and go about your day.
THIS IS WHAT YOU WANT MOST.
And it’s not normal.
But it’s happy. Very, very happy.
Image by Luis Llerena
HAPPINESS for NO REASON but happiness itself.
THAT is NOT normal.
But happiness for NO REASON is the REASON you are here.
Now, you see: Normal is SO overrated.
This article was originally published on Britt’s website.
Britt Steele is a thought leader, love preacher and yoga teacher dedicated to bringing students the age-old teaching of yoga through a modern and inclusive lens. She is the author of Pilgrim: Live Your Yoga Every Single Day and lives with her husband at Deva Daaru YogaFarm where she hosts retreats and trainings. Learn more at her website.