In my work, the small things are almost always equal in importance to the larger ones–if not more significant.
In fact, I’m willing to argue that it’s the small things upon which the fate or fulfillment of the larger ones rest, far more so than the other way around.
It isn’t the two-hour workout that pushes me to the limit and aggravates me to no end, it’s the velcro on the strap of my ankle weight that keeps coming loose, forcing me to stop and re-velcro it repeatedly.
It isn’t that you need to shlep your kids from school to home to soccer practice, feed them a healthy snack and make sure they have all their sports gear with them that tires you out really. What does it is your son announcing he’s forgotten his soccer socks as you’re pulling up to the field.
Although clutter is different for everyone, it’s so often the smallest items that ultimately create major clutter situations. One crumpled receipt in a kitchen utility drawer has the undeniable power to create palpable chaos.
And while we will forever remember the grand gestures of kindness and generosity extended to us by others, it is the small acts of kindness that shift our mood and mindset most, thus transforming our relationship with life.
There’s a reason why the camel’s back was broken by a straw and not a bale of hail, why an avalanche is caused by a few rogue flakes (did I make that up? Maybe. Let’s go with it.) The might of small things to derail us, upset us, or, on the flip side, light us up, spur us on, and touch our hearts is considerable.
Small things quickly become larger. Small hurdles increase if we don’t handle them in their infancy. Small progress leads to massive revelations and gains over time.
So maybe that’s it–we shouldn’t sweat the small stuff, but attend to it appropriately. We shouldn’t neglect the small things, but realize their power and possibility–both bad and good.
Though we might imagine them as being processed identically, the mental space required to navigate big, high-stakes situations is entirely different from the kind we need to call upon to tolerate small irritations or rise to small opportunities. Big things are emotional, calculated, methodical. They get lots of attention from others; they’re noticed, appreciated, valued. Small things, on the other hand, are instinctual and fleeting. They cut to the quick and catch us wholly off guard. Big things require savvy, insight, and intellect. Small things require patience and openness.
To be a master of great things, become a master of small. Because no matter how large a life you might someday lead, if a small thing wields the power to unhinge you, you’re at risk of screwing it all up. Because no matter how bountiful your life, if a small act of love loses its ability to impress you, you will have somehow lost your connection to the world at large.