Small Miracles

Have you ever experienced a miracle? I have. Noah Benshea wrote, “A miracle is often the willingness to see the common in an uncommon way.” I see miracles every day. I agree with Walt Whitman who wrote “Miracles” when he says, “Why, who makes much of a miracle? As to me I, know of nothing else but miracles,” He goes on to enumerate the daily things he experiences and closes by asking the reader, “What stranger miracles are there?”

The dictionary definition of a miracle is an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs, or an extremely outstanding or unusual event, thing, or accomplishment. I’m not arguing against those definitions, but I would like to expand them. Maybe we should consider that just because things are commonplace, it doesn’t make them less miraculous. Outstanding doesn’t have to be unusual.

How we perceive things impacts how we react to them. Studies have repeatedly shown that a positive attitude creates tangible mental and physical benefits, most of which are directly applicable to being a better leader:

  • Better stress management and coping skills during stressful moments
  • Lower risk of depression
  • More resistant to the common cold and a stronger immune system
  • Decreased risk of heart attacks and heart disease
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Better problem-solving
  • Greater ability to adapt to change
  • More creative thinking
  • Consistent attitude with fewer mood swings
  • Stronger leadership skills

One of the most effective practices for maintaining a positive mindset is gratefulness. This is simply the habit of acknowledging the people, situations, and opportunities in your life that you are thankful for. If you are new to this, you may initially list or journal about big things like your spouse, kids, job, general health, and such. As you maintain the practice over time, you will likely start noticing and listing smaller and smaller things like a sunrise, the taste of coffee, or the first spring flower growing out of the snow.

This is how I define miracles. They are all the things and people I have come to realize I have no right to expect nor have I earned. They are the things that create the environment and backdrop for my life. They are miraculous because despite their regularity, they are quite fragile, and their existence is unlikely.

I often don’t recognize the miraculous things in my life until they are no longer there. Health, friends, opportunity, mental acuity. These are just a few things that are easy to take for granted until they are missing or compromised. I have lower back problems, and when my back goes out, it is incredibly painful and limiting. I’m often surprised at how quickly I forget the pain and stop noticing that my back feels good today. It takes effort and intentionality to notice the “normal” things that can be lost so easily.

I’m happy for there to be “official” miracles that meet some precise requirements, but I am going to cultivate an attitude of finding the miraculous among the common. I believe I will experience life more fully and, in turn, be able to approach and interact with people from a position of gratefulness and wonder. People are, after all, the greatest miracle in our lives and treating them as such is the Bison Way.