The little things matter.
It can be super easy to get caught up in the “big picture” of the world today. All you have to do is turn on one of the 24 hour news channels, scroll through Facebook, Twitter, or another social media outlet, and you will soon be totally bombarded by an overwhelming number of things to get angry, upset, sad, and frustrated about.
When we let these things run over us, like the cartoon coyote under the anvil, we’ll survive, but feel that weight squashing us down.
This is why the little things matter.
What are the little things?
The little things are the everyday thoughts, feelings and actions that you and I employ. They can be almost infinitesimally small and seemingly insignificant, but all together they make up the true, sum-total reality of our lives.
Yes, the “big picture” issues are important. If we pay them no attention at all, they can impact us along the way. However, if in facing them and being inundated by them we ignore our daily lives, we render ourselves incapable of doing anything about anything.
It is really easy to lose focus on the little things that make up our lives. A lot of things we take for granted, because mindfulness and consciousness get shunted to the side by any number of outside influences.
If you are reading this now, you likely have access to information at your fingertips, a ready source of sustenance, and probably a place to call home. I think we frequently lose sight of how much these things matter. They may feel like little things, but they are the most real reality of our existence, and as such are best not ignored.
Big things are made up of little things
All of us experience a sense of overwhelm from time to time. Often, these begin with little things compounding themselves into bigger and bigger things along the way.
When I get frustrated because I am not doing enough writing; or I am not exercising enough; or I’m failing at sticking to a healthier diet; if I bring these individual things all together, they become bigger and more overwhelming. The little things become big things, and as such more difficult to deal with.
When these are matters outside of our control, like politics, religion, coworkers, and stuff like that, we’re more limited in what we can do about them. But when these matters are personal, we have a number of tools we can use to shrink them down, and be less overwhelmed.
We directly address the little things
How? By asserting control over the only things we actually can: Our thoughts, feelings, and actions. When we keep mindfulness of our thoughts, awareness of our feelings, and intentions to our actions, they are wholly ours to control.
The best way to do this is to start small. When you are mulling over a thought, check to see if it is yours, or if it is something you cannot control. Then, consider if it is an empowering, creative idea or a disempowering notion.
Recognize what you are feeling. Become aware of how and what you feel, because it’s almost surreal how easily our thoughts run away to places we do not wish to go. If your feelings are in reaction to things you haven’t any control over, try to let them go and focus on something that feels good, positive, and empowering.
Actions without intent may only feed thoughts and feelings of overwhelm. A great many of the things I find myself doing without intent. Some are pretty benign, albeit unhelpful, like chewing my fingernails or eating when not hungry. However, repeating these actions frequently leads to habits, and unintentional habits can be hard to break. No, it’s not smoking or excessive drinking, but the lack of intent in action also lacks awareness and mindfulness.
Once we recognize actions lacking intent, we can be more mindful about how we act. Even the little things we do matter, so it pays to be intentional.
Thoughts, feelings and actions, whatever forms they take, are under our individual control. These seemingly little things are where all the big things take shape from. The tiny acorn grows into a tall and majestic tree, which gets cut down to form a battering ram to storm the castle with. Without the acorn, the castle cannot be taken.
Let the little things empower you
Rather than allowing ourselves to be overwhelmed by these massive matters that inundate us, when we take control over the little things we can we empower ourselves. When we are empowered, we become capable of doing incredible things.
But more importantly, we are better able to cope with the day-to-day things. Not just cope, but live. And thrive. Rather than just going about our days waiting for tiny moments of ok to awesome, we can choose to see every moment for potential. No, this doesn’t eliminate bad things, but it makes them easier to handle.
Neither does it create an instant cure or quick-fix — but it does make us better able to be in more control. It may take time, and practice, but employing those little things matters, because they are where everything worthwhile begins.
Last, and most certainly not least — you deserve a life that is not just mediocre, but fantastic. You are worthy, and deserving of it, and you and your dreams and aspirations matter. Stand up to the overwhelm, and being mindful of your thoughts, feelings, and actions, realize just how much you truly are capable of.