The Little Things — those happy little accidents that make our day, those niggling little worries that won’t leave us alone, those small accents that finish off an outfit to perfection.
Little things: mosquitoes, engagement rings, snowflakes, blisters.
But how important are they?
It’s the little things that give us such satisfaction when we’re coming to the end of a big project. All the big stuff is done and we can simply have fun with it. Editing to find exactly the right words, the perfect turn of phrase, or getting the final catchlight in the eye of a painted portrait just the right size, colour and shape.
And it’s the little things that can enhance or destroy relationships.
“I so admire him. He’s so full of energy. Always working on some project or other. I love his hands, so capable.”
Then, a couple of years later:
“What’s wrong with him? Why can’t he relax like a normal human being? The man drives me crazy. He’s always got time for his stupid projects but never has time for me. And why can’t he use that expensive hand creme I got him? He pulled a thread in my favourite sweater yesterday.”
Yeah, it’s the little things that determine our likes and dislikes, It’s the little things we fiddle with when we have a big decision to make — one that’s too big and scary to face head-on, so we fool around with the peripherals when the big things are too hard or too confusing to deal with.
We focus on the little things when we procrastinate — the little things that distract us from accomplishing our big projects. “Oh, I can’t work out the plot of my book right now. I have to go pluck my nose hair.”
Maybe we should spend a little time categorizing the little things and figure out which ones we can eliminate in pursuit of a larger goal.
Or maybe we could simply stop and smell the roses. After all, when we add it all up, it’s the little things that give us the most joy.
And isn’t that what life’s all about?
Yeah. It’s the little things.
Little things I love:
- A hot cup of tea, first thing in the morning.
- My dog laying his head in my lap, just because we’re together.
- The colour of fresh new leaves in the spring.
- The sudden glimpse of a rainbow as I pass a sprinkler in sunlight.
- The smell of freshly-washed sheets that have been hung on the line to dry.
- A snatch of music that nags at me and the feeling of satisfaction I get when I finally identify it, hours later.
- Walking into an air-conditioned building on a hot summer day.
- Finding exactly the right words to finish a story.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, it’s not the little things in and of themselves. It’s what they mean to us.
Little things inspire reactions. They inspire disgust, anger, love, appreciation, hatred, shock and a host of other human responses. They inspire gratitude and mindfulness.
When we’re deep in the trenches, head down, forging a new future, we don’t think about the little things, except for how they might impact the greater good, but when we stop and take a look around, it’s the little things that drive our ambition to achieve great things in the first place. We create impressive careers so we can have a comfortable home and make a safe place for family and kids. We knock ourselves out building a garden so we can, yes, smell the roses.
So, it’s the little things that provide impetus for the big things. The big things are made up of details, baby steps, small adjustments, cogs in the machine — little things. And the big things can’t exist without them.
Little things are not only important, they are everything.