It’s easy to become immune to, and much less grateful for, the small things in our lives. We allow our feelings of being overwhelmed and our yearning for achievement and material satisfaction to overshadow the precious little gems of life that are all around us.
In our quest to experience the more seductive and exciting “highs,” we have lost sight of the fact that most of life, indeed a vast majority of it, is made up of small things and moments, one right after the other.
Learning to appreciate these things and moments play a huge role in creating a peaceful and happy life. Although the things themselves may be small, failing to appreciate them has really big ramifications!
The failure to acknowledge and, indeed, appreciate the small things breeds an inability to be touched by life.
Rather than seeing and experiencing the perfection of the divine plan, most of it is instead disregarded. The wonder and awe of life is diminished, the feelings associated with appreciation and gratitude are missed, and, perhaps more than anything, you’ll be sweating the small stuff all the time. The reason this happens is that when your attention isn’t on what’s right, beautiful, special and mysterious, it will be on what’s wrong, what’s irritating, and what’s missing. Your focus of attention will encourage you to be “on edge” and on the lookout for problems instead of the small things that bring you big joy and are right in front of you.
Unfortunately, this type of attention feeds on itself and becomes a way of seeing and experiencing the world. You’ll be too busy thinking about the condescending remark you overheard at lunch or the way your blouse doesn’t look quite right to notice the friendly smile of the checkout clerk or the beautiful art on the classroom wall.
On the other hand, when the bulk of your attention is on what’s right with your life, what’s precious and special, the payoff is enormous. You’ll re-experience the feeling that life is magical and every moment is to be treasured. Instead of complaining about the litter on the side of the road, you’ll notice the colors of the trees and plants. Again, your attention will feed on itself and, over time, you’ll notice more and more things to be grateful for. Your habit becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
When you talk to anyone who is very sick or who has had a near death experience, they will tell you that the things you usually think are “big” are, in fact, relatively insignificant; whereas the things you think are small are, in fact, what’s most important. Money, for example, or physical beauty, or an accomplishment, or a material possession can seem to be the end-all, feeling extremely important, even more than life and death issues. Yet, when looking back on your life, it’s very likely that these things that once were in clear focus have lost their luster. They will seem less important, maybe even superficial. On the other hand, the beauty of nature, the touch of newborn fingers wrapped around your own, a lovely smile, or the gift of friendship, will be precious and indeed priceless.
If you knew that you only had one day to live, what would you think about—your car or favorite pair of shoes or would it be the more everyday joys that occupy your mind?
A person who celebrates only the big stuff and “highs” will have only fleeting moments of happiness, at best. On the other hand, a person who feels grateful for the small things in life will be happy a majority of the time. Virtually everywhere she looks, she will find cause for celebration.
This isn’t a prescription to pretend that things are better than they are or a suggestion that their isn’t plenty of ugliness and pain in the world. There is. What it is, however, is the acknowledgement that when you are honest and reflective about what’s important in life, it’s the smaller things that win the prize.
Kristine Carlson captivated readers worldwide with her first three bestsellers Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff in Love, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff for Women and An Hour to Live, An Hour to Love: The True Story of the Best Gift Ever Given of her life with her late husband, Dr. Richard Carlson. In the first new book in the Don’t Sweat series since Richard’s passing, Kristine shares her wisdom with moms, offering tried-and-true advice that will empower them to find greater peace, joy, and harmony within themselves and their homes. Check out the new book, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff for Moms. For more on Kristine, please visit her website dontsweatmoms.com, or on Facebook or Twitter.
* Photo by Istvan Penzes