Originally posted April 21, 2014, at Aging and the Church. Republished with permission of the author.

We seem to be such a big-event oriented society. I wanted to write about the benefits of noticing and giving thanks for the smaller good things in life even after experiencing a big-event — like Easter. Easter is always such a busy time, such an important time for Christians. But I find that there is often so much to do. The days can seem so busy, so “noisy.” I wanted to understand how that busyness relates to reflecting subsequently on the emotionally positive meanings of Easter for us (and the “good” after other big events of life). I was thinking about our family experiences in Norway in 1975 with Annen Påskedag, the celebration of Easter Monday. Families rest, visit other families and friends — and at least to some extent give “Thanks to God” for the gifts of life.

So, like a good card-carrying member of the 21st century, into Google I typed “noticing the good in a noisy world.” I assumed I would find suggestions online for knowing how to notice and think about all the positive things in life, from the resurrection of Christ, to a cardinal singing his heart out in the cherry tree outside our window or a phone call from one of our children with fun news about their life.

Imagine my surprise when the first four pages of Google’s online response were filled with comments about my getting noticed by others in a noisy world, not my noticing and appreciating others in the midst of such busyness! Is this a metaphor for our changing world or what?!?!

In my effort to untangle life’s busyness and find ways to notice, appreciate and show gratitude to others for the small stuff, I find advice for how to make myself a more visible part of the noise of life for others! Rather than discovering suggestions for noticing and appreciating our God, I find advice for how I can be better known and appreciated by our God. Hmm.

I suppose I shouldn’t be so surprised. Take Easter for instance. Even our popular songs about Easter describe parades, bonnets and finery of the day. Since that was more or less the way it was, I don’t recall ever asking whether it was right to bring that kind of focus on me or my family in a sea of others doing the same thing. Perhaps the books and other admonitions for “Getting Noticed” (and appreciated) describe the way the world has always worked and I might as well “get on board.”

But I know from the volumes of research that what really brings well-being to us and those we care about is noticing and appreciating the good things that happen in the nuances of everyday life — and expressing thanks.

Truth can be so contradictory.

Bruce Roberts
Bruce B. Roberts is a professor of psychology emeritus at St. Olaf College, one of the 26 colleges and universities of the ELCA. He currently teaches in the Cannon Valley Elder Collegium in Northfield, Minn. Find a link to Bruce Roberts’ blog Aging And The Church at Lutheran Blogs.

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