midlife, personal growth

The Little Things in Life are the Big Things

Image of a drop of water causing a ripple effect for the Cheers 2 Chapter 2 Little Things are the Big Things blog page

Why the little things in life are actually the big things…

If you’re like me, you’ve got plenty of goals and dreams that seem super possible on sunny days. However, on the grayer days it’s easy to feel discouraged and defeated when we don’t see the amount of progress we’d hoped for.

We can get fixated on the bigger picture, the end game, and start to feel down on ourselves because we lose sight of an appreciation for the little things in life.

The little things that can make us feel valuable and empowered on the grayer days and in the littler moments of daily life are not little at all.

“The little things in life are what connects us to all the big things we live for.” – Robert Frost

At the end of the day, when we put our head down on the pillow, I think we’d all agree that it’s the little things in life that matter most.

How we treat other people (and ourselves), even in the briefest interaction, is what has lasting meaning.

Why we’re frustrated

It’s so frustrating when we feel like we can’t control the big events in life.

We work hard, we try to keep up, we keep pedaling and pedaling to get ahead. And yet, many of us still struggle to meet our goals. To be our best self, to be healthy, to get a raise, to be fit, to be tidy, to be in better financial shape. Frequently, we feel like we’ve failed to measure up in these categories. Especially if we allow ourselves to be measured by the killjoy of comparison to others.

Midlife brings clarity

Our big goals and dreams will always have their place, but as we get wiser in midlife, we can see more clearly that the little things in life are often the big things.

The truest measurement of our success in life is how we have treated people.

“Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in our hearts.” – Winnie the Pooh

It’s not the achievements nor the accumulation of materials things that leave a lasting mark. Those are nice decorations on our lives, but they’re not the big things.

The big thing is how we made people feel. Not just those you love or see daily, but strangers too.

Were you kind to the cashier at the store yesterday?

Did you smile at the nasty toll taker? Did you sincerely wish the grouchy bus driver a wonderful day after he was flat-out rude to you?

Did you compliment a friend on how beautiful she looked last weekend?

Have you called your sister and told her you are grateful for her, even though you don’t see each often?

Whether you believe in karma or any other universal consciousness, no one can deny the ripple effect of kindness.

When we are kind and treat others with respect, compassion and non-judgement, it can have a big positive ripple-effect far beyond what we’ll ever know.

 “Kind words can be short and easy, but their echoes are truly endless.” – Mother Teresa

Maybe that cashier or bus driver is going through something incredibly difficult. Maybe your kind smile or words made the difference in their day. A small difference, but significant enough for them to feel a little better and more able to pass on a bit of kindness to their next customer, or their partner or their children later that day.

When you bring a sick friend a carton of chicken soup, it’s more than the soup that helps them feel better. It’s knowing someone cared. It’s making them feel seen. It’s showing others that they matter.

Kindness begets kindness.

Lashing out in anger or spite never helps anyone feel better. And in fact, it always makes us feel worse. Because not only are we left with the sting of the original hurt, but on top of that, we feel petty and mean. No one ever laid down at night and honestly felt good about hurting someone else.

Throw yourself some kindness.

Maybe you effed something up at work this week. Missed a deadline. Ate too many Mallomars. Whatever it was, forgive yourself and let it go. You could have done worse.

Now, think about the little things you did do today.

How you went out of your way to bring your son the lunch he forgot to school. How you didn’t remind a friend she owed you that ten bucks for the lunch you bought. When you let the mom with the crying infant slide in front of you at the register line.

And sometimes it’s the things in life you didn’t do that make a difference.

When you didn’t lose your cool in response to a snarky coworker. When you didn’t scream at your daughter for the makeup powder she spilled (and left) on the bathroom floor.

When you stopped yourself from that second bowl of cherry chocolate ice cream.

When you’re feeling lost and down because you’ve missed an achievement mark or fell off track from a personal goal you’ve been working toward, cut yourself some slack. Celebrate that you are doing the best you can on this day.

Instead of feeling inadequate for not being perfect or for not having reached your big goals today, feel good that you do good on the littler things.

Throw the world some kindness.

Send an out-of-nowhere thinking of you, love you text to an old friend or family member. Pay ahead for the woman behind you in line buying coffee. Stop to tell a young mom in the supermarket or the airport who is frazzled by her child’s public meltdown that she is a good mom and this will pass.

Kindness is contagious.

Smile at the cashier in the deli. Send a thank you card through snail mail to someone who made you feel good.

“The little moments? The little things? They aren’t little.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn

Keeping your eyeballs on the little things in life

Lay down tonight and instead of dwelling on how you maybe didn’t make progress on the big stuff today, review a mental highlight reel of how you treated others.

Did you have a few kindness wins? Where can you do better tomorrow? Where did you send out positive words, actions or vibes of love and kindness that will surely trickle outward?

Keep chugging on your big goals but at the end of each day, keep your eyeballs on the little things in life.

How we treat people makes a far wider ripple in the world than our achievements or possessions ever will.

Cheers to the little wins, the little kindnesses, the little big things in life.  – Marlene

 


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