hands of woman and green sprout

The Little Things


Have you ever heard the saying, “it’s the little things that matter most”? What do you think that means? To me, I have learned that it is the little things that matter most in relationships. With your kids, your spouse, your parents or your friends, it is truly the little things that create memories.

When I was a child I remember my grandmother taking me for long walks. We didn’t live in the country, but along a busy street in a cement jungle she would point out the little things. The beauty that most people passed by: the flower that grew out of the sidewalk crack, the shape of the fallen leaf the clouds, the sound of the wind, or the smell of rain about to come down. She still calls me her ‘sidewalk girl’.

Sometimes in life I have gotten too caught up in moving. Always busy I rush from work to home to activities and to bed without a breath in between. Get the kids to school, get the dinner on the table, make sure the homework is done, take the dog to the vet, go grocery shopping, and on and on it goes. After a while you start feeling burnt out, anxious, or even angry. Where is the life you were promised? What happened to the fun? Even ‘fun’ things like going out with friends or watching a movie seems more work than relaxation and you start to wonder what went wrong.

I have had many times in my life where I have felt unfulfilled, restless, and ready to run away from it all. Not because I didn’t love my family or my job, but simply because I couldn’t see the beauty in it anymore. That’s the thing about beauty. You have to look for it in the little things.

Stop to smell the roses, as they say, and you will start to remember why you work so hard and what it is all for. Some little things to look out for:

  • Watch your kids play or sleep. No, I mean REALLY watch them. Listen to their giggles, see their eyes flash, look at their chubby fingers.
  • Look at your spouse. Look at their lips and remember what it was like the first time you kissed. Ask them about something they love and watch their expression as they tell you about it. Hear the passion in their voice.
  • Create something without a purpose. Just because. Don’t think about it, just make it. Look at what you made with nothing but enjoyment.
  • Look at the clouds or the stars. Just find a patch of grass and lie down and look up.
  • Take a picture of a flower. Just one. Just because. Really look at it.
  • Stand outside and close your eyes. What do you feel? What do you smell?
  • Stand in the rain.
  • Watch something being built or created.
  • Go to a candle shop or perfume store. Smell everything.
  • Go somewhere with live music and just listen.
  • Sit with your feet in running water. Walk barefoot.
  • Go somewhere that you are completely alone. Turn off everything. Talk to yourself and really listen to what you have to say.
  • Read your favorite book again, even if it is a children’s book.
  • Eat something you love and take time to enjoy the flavor.
  • Take a nap.
  • Take a long, hot bubble bath.
  • Go for a drive without a destination. Somewhere you have never been.
  • Go for a walk without direction or distraction.
  • Give someone you love a long hug. What do they feel like?

Something else I have been thinking about when it comes to little things is the past and the future. I saw a quote recently, by who I have no idea, that said “The past is a story and the future is a lie.” What I took that to mean is that the past doesn’t change the present. You don’t have to live by it, it is just a story. Stories can change. The future, as much as we like to think we have some control over it, is utterly outside our reach. Every idea or plan we come up with is, essentially, a lie. Since we can’t control the future we can’t really plan for it either.

I would think that the idea would make me feel helpless, but really it made me feel better. If you take each day as being the only thing that really matters it is much easier to enjoy the little things. Every day is made up of only the little things as nothing really ‘big’ can happen in one day. Without the future to give it longevity or the past to give it history everything in life is just little, temporary things.

I guess that is the idea behind living as if each day were your last. What would you do differently? What little things would you focus on? What ‘big’ things like your job or money or struggles would you dismiss? I’m not saying you need to abandon your responsibilities, but getting to caught up in the long term is not good for you either.

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” (John Lennon)

Take a look at your life. Are you living to just keep existing, keep going, or are you LIVING? It is the little things that make up life, the little things that make life living, instead of just functioning. Don’t get so caught up in the rat race that you pass by the little things. They are temporary, yes, but that makes them even more important because they won’t be there forever. Enjoy your life one little thing at a time.