Minute #588: Normal

“I understand, doctor, but the number did go up from 160 to 170 and I’m concerned,” Mr. Ehrenfeld said.

“AsI said before, there is no need for concern,” Dr. Goldberg calmly repeated. “Your cholesterol did go up, but you are still in a‘normal’ range and have nothing to worry about.”

“But I am trending upwards,” Mr. Ehrenfeld nervously insisted.

“In my practice there are two types of people. There are those who are ‘normal’ and those who are not,” Dr. Goldberg said. “Relax and enjoy your life — you are ‘normal’ and no action is needed.”

Mr. Ehrenfeld’s concerns have some validity. It seems that not a day goes by that one doesn’t hear of someone who seemed to be a picture of health yet was diagnosed with a serious malady. When a doctor says there was something in the diagnostic test that is ‘not normal,’ the patient’s alarm system goes off, striking fear in the heart. What could be worse than hearing those words?

What’s worse is speaking words that categorize another individual as abnormal. The words may not be a direct reference to normalcy. One may say, “Nobody does what you did!” or, “Grow up — you’re not a little boy anymore!” or, maybe, “What’s wrong with you?” The message is the same: There is something strange about you!

One who is secure in one’s abilities might withstand the criticism unscathed, but one who is insecure maybe scarred for life. This is especially true with children and teens who are in the formative years of self-appraisal.

Everyone wants to be normal, but no one acts that way all of the time. When you’re about to criticize, think  first and choose words that are constructive, not destructive. Consider whether your words will help or harm. Don’t label another “not normal.”

One More Second: Another Thought for the Day

A person who masters coping and, better yet, feeling joy in his present moment, need never worry about the future. When the future comes, it will be the present and he will be able to handle it. Moreover, if you master feeling joy in your present moment, you need never be concerned you are missing anything… (Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Gateway to Happiness, p. 151)