1st Edition

The Extraordinary Gift of Being Ordinary Finding Happiness Right Where You Are

By Ronald D. Siegel Copyright 2022

    “Did I sound stupid?” “Should I have sent that email?” “How do I look?” Many of us spend a lot of time feeling self-conscious and comparing ourselves to others. Why do we judge ourselves so relentlessly? Why do we strive so hard to be special or successful, or to avoid feeling rejected? When psychologist and mindfulness expert Dr. Ronald Siegel realized that he, as well as most of his clients, was caught in a cycle of endless self-evaluation, he decided to do something about it. This engaging, empowering guide sheds light on this very human habit--and explains how to break it. Through illuminating stories and exercises, practical tools (which you can download and print for repeated use), and guided meditations with accompanying audio downloads, Dr. Siegel invites you to stop obsessing so much about how you measure up. Instead, by accepting the extraordinary gift of being ordinary, you can build stronger connections with others and get more joy out of life.

    I. The Self-Evaluation Trap
    1. Are We Doomed?
    2. It’s Darwin’s Fault
    II. The Essential Toolkit
    3. The Liberating Power of Mindfulness
    4. Discovering Who We Really Are
    III. Catching Ourselves in the Act
    5. The Failure of Success
    6. Resisting Selfie-Esteem
    7. Conspicuous Consumption and Other Status Signals
    8. Treating Our Self-Esteem Addiction
    IV. Breaking Free: Finding Trustworthy Paths to Happiness
    9. Make a Connection, Not an Impression
    10. The Power of Compassion
    11. You Have to Feel It to Heal It
    12. Separating the Doer from the Deed
    13. You’re Not That Special--and Other Good News
    14. Beyond I, Me, Mine
    List of Audio Tracks
    Audio Downloads:
    What Matters to Me? (07:10)
    Riding the Self-Evaluation Roller Coaster (05:10)
    Mindfulness of Breath (20:45)
    Identifying Emotions in the Body (06:40)
    The Joys of Self-Transcendence (04:10)
    Urge Surfing (05:00)
    Embracing a Self-Esteem Injury (04:10)
    Loving-Kindness Practice (15:35)
    R.A.I.N. for Self-Esteem Injuries (06:15 )
    It All Changes (18:25)
    The Future of Our Social Self (08:20)


    Ronald D. Siegel, PsyD, is Assistant Professor of Psychology, part time, at Harvard Medical School, where he has taught since the early 1980s. He is a longtime student of mindfulness meditation and is a faculty and board member at the Institute for Meditation and Psychotherapy. Dr. Siegel teaches internationally about the application of mindfulness practices in psychotherapy and other fields, and maintains a private practice in Lincoln, Massachusetts. His books include The Extraordinary Gift of Being Ordinary and The Mindfulness Solution, for general readers, as well as several acclaimed works for professionals.

    "Brilliant and accessible, The Extraordinary Gift of Being Ordinary gets to the very core of our human suffering and offers wise and helpful practices for taming our striving, comparing minds. The peace and contentment we long for arise naturally as we wake up from the limiting stories that habitually confine us, and begin to trust the truth of who we really are."--Tara Brach, PhD, author of Trusting the Gold

    "Freeing us from toxic self-criticism and shame, this powerful book is an opening into deep self-acceptance, self-worth, and inner peace. Dr. Siegel’s warmth fills every page, along with insights and practical suggestions from his decades as a world-class therapist. With many examples and lots of brief experiential practices, he brings together current science, soulful wisdom, and his own humorous and down-to-earth perspective. Really a gem, this is a book both for help in the darkest night and for general guidance along the long road of life."--Rick Hanson, PhD, author of Resilient

    “In Zen, one of the highest accomplishments is to be ordinary. This means not to compare ourselves, but to be free to be authentic and real. In a wise and loving way, Dr. Siegel shows us how.”--Jack Kornfield, PhD, author of After the Ecstasy, the Laundry

    "This is an insightful, well-written, and extremely useful guide to finding happiness in the midst of imperfection. Chock full of practical exercises alongside easy-to-digest nuggets of wisdom, this book will help you let go of shame and negative self-judgments and instead embrace who you are with compassion."--Kristin Neff, PhD, coauthor of The Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook

    “It feels so freeing to just stop comparing myself to other people, even for a little while. Dr. Siegel's writing is compassionate, funny, and insightful. I've never been so glad to be 'ordinary.'"--Susie F., Boston

    "Dr. Siegel shows how the world lures us with the shiny object called happiness, then hooks us. We spend our lives pulling and tugging, only to get more deeply caught in cycles of suffering. But we can unhook ourselves and swim in a different direction--toward a more achievable level of well-being, fed by connection and compassion. This book is written from deep personal wisdom and vast clinical experience."--Judson Brewer, MD, PhD, author of Unwinding Anxiety

    "Dr. Siegel’s message--there’s joy in ordinariness and even in failure--gave me a boost of self-acceptance to step forward in my career. Dr. Siegel gracefully dismantled my ego as if he were peeling layers of an onion. His book gave me the courage to endure failure, feel less preoccupied with other people's opinions, and celebrate the imperfections that used to keep me up at night.”--Cody R., Seattle

    "Deploying his rare mastery of mindfulness approaches, reinforced by decades of insight as a psychotherapist, Dr. Siegel offers reliable, effective, and simple guidance to escape what he aptly calls 'the trap of self-evaluation'--a trap all too familiar to many of us."--Gabor Maté, MD, author of In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction-