Catherine Gray is an award-winning writer and editor whose first book The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober was a London Sunday Times top 10 bestseller. The author starts off this venture with a snappy chapter noting the troubles which pile up when we get in the bad habit of attaching our needs, hopes, and dreams to expectations. Of course, these desires are fed by the consumer culture which constantly leaves us unhappy and often disappointed with our experiences or possessions which invariably aren't as great as we thought they would be.
Another downer, according to Gray, is getting stuck on "the hedonistic treadmill" which lifts us up and then brings us down with a depressing thud. Setting out to treat ourselves with some happiness, the same dissatisfaction emerges.
Instead of always seeking for extraordinary delights, objects, and experiences we might discover much more pleasure, beauty, and surprise in the ordinary — the commonplace, the run-of-the-mill, the homespun, the modest, and the typical. While the quest for joy in the trivial and the inconsequential may seem daring and counter-cultural to secularists and "nones" not familiar with the world religions, this spiritual path has been practiced for centuries by all the wisdom traditions. Gray comes at this subject from a variety of fascinating angles as she explores ordinary living, ordinary being, ordinary loving, ordinary earning, ordinary brains and downtime, and ordinary bodies. Short, breezy essays are followed by "Odes to the Ordinary" filled with personal stories and tributes. Gray models an approach to life that is refreshing and easily doable.