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  • Katharine West

Looking beyond the everyday

Updated: Feb 3, 2019

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Over the past several years I’ve become mindful of many ways that life helps us develop into something more than we imagined was possible. One way that life does this, which so many neglect to notice, is by sending us interesting people of all ages, not necessarily famous people, or rich or highly successful people, but very ordinary people who offer wonderful opportunities for us to learn something new about life and ourselves.

It may be the driver who slows down to allow you to merge into heavy traffic, the child playing joyfully in the park, or the elderly woman at the coffee shop who strikes up a brief conversation while waiting in line with you. Everyday, these unassuming people show up in our space, offering life lessons that can help us get over our shortcoming. This doesn’t mean that they have you bursting into song; it means that they, often without realising it, offer you an understanding or insight that helps you improve your life.

The secret to recognising these everyday people is to slow down and pay a little more attention to everyone you encounter. Simply notice someone for a few moments longer, listen a little more intently, or ask a question that you’d not ordinarily ask. You’re seeking to see what was unseeable because you were in too much of a hurry. You may discover what you need to know to aspire higher and overcome problems that you’ve been struggling with.

Age doesn’t equal wisdom when it comes to these people. Be willing to look beyond the surface; notice how others express themselves in ways that would be wise for you to adopt in your personality.


My half wild cat who rolled on her back every time she saw me taught me the freedom of surrender. Seeing an old woman playing piano at her 90th birthday to a huge crowd so taken away with her music she didn't care - she was just as she was when she practised everyday - its was just her passion not a performance. This reminds me to be in the moment, fully engaging in life and my own passions and dancing to my own drumbeat.


When you recognise that every ordinary person is extraordinary in his or her own unique way, you naturally become more mindful, you become more deliberate with your interactions with others; you take time to notice people because you never know when the next lesson will appear to teach you what you need to learn next. No more hurrying through our day with eyes half closed—if there’s a lesson available, you want to know.


One of the best things you can do for yourself is to look at others with curious eyes rather than the humdrum perspective that most people take. There are areas in your life where you’re not feeling fully alive, and there are folks out there who can help offer you a tip or two with that. You never know who the next person with a lesson is and when you’re going to meet them.


The daily experiences that affect us most memorably are when ordinary people, casually crossing our paths, leave a life-changing impression as they go on their way.


Katharine West, Wellbeing Coach

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