The truth is, most of your life is made up of little, ordinary things — found in the present tense. If you don’t learn to appreciate the small things, your existence will be a shallow and unhappy one — lost in doldrums, daydreams, or frenzied activity.
But life is happening right now, here in front of you! Miss this moment, and what makes you think you’ll savor future ones — even those ripe with potential?
It’s time to deepen your appreciation for life’s little things. And, I’ve gathered a few tips over the years, which I’m eager to share.
WHY DO THE SMALL THINGS MATTER?
Small things matter. And this isn’t just because:
- they’re plentiful, or
- valuing them will make you happier.
There’s much more to it.
Appreciating the little things matters because appreciation gives birth to gratitude.
It matters — not because this attitude makes life more enjoyable, but because gratitude is the only appropriate response, when confronted so plainly with the goodness of God.
The act of giving thanks requires a recipient. It’s human nature to fixate on the gift, while neglecting the giver. This is especially tragic when the Giver is God Himself.
G. K. Chesterton proposed that:
The worst moment for an atheist is when he is really thankful and has no one to thank.
When the small blessings are overlooked, forgotten, or even disdained, God is dishonored.
The larger purpose for appreciating little things isn’t related to happiness at all. It’s about seeing the things that really matter, and thanking God for them. Giving thanks is good, because it’s the right thing to do. God is worthy of your gratitude.
In everything, give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. — 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NKJV)
God wants you to be thankful! It’s His will for you. Thankfulness is the natural byproduct of a life fixed on Jesus. It is the fruit that grows when you are rooted in Him.
I’m going to offer you some practical tips for appreciating the small — and seemingly mundane — aspects of life. But before I do, it’s important you know that this attitude of thankfulness, and the joy that comes with it, grows most abundantly in a transformed heart.
The Holy Spirit, the one who fills a heart reborn, is the only reliable Source of consistent gratitude. He dwells within every believer, giving strength to walk the straight and narrow.
Quite frankly, in today’s world, you and I need all the help, and hope, we can get. For more on this spiritual transformation, visit the About page.
HOW TO APPRECIATE THE SMALL THINGS IN LIFE:
1. WRITE THEM DOWN
Start a mindfulness journal (mindful awareness is always a prerequisite to gratitude). In fact, call it a gratitude journal! And, this isn’t just another entry in your “to do” list.
Recollecting rogue thoughts is a quick and easy perspective changer. Simply grab a notepad, and at the end of the day swap some of your social media time for personal reflection. Begin with ten minutes! Follow these instructions:
- Ponder your day.
- Invite God to highlight the little things that mattered.
- And then, thank Him for these. Even if it’s just one or two things. That’s a good start.
- Text yourself throughout the day, to remember the little details as they happen:
- A quiet moment here.
- A smile there.
- Someone let you into traffic.
- The barista gave you a free drink, just because.
- Someone’s mask design made you laugh.
- That dark chocolate with sea salt sent you over the moon!
- The pen you borrowed wrote smoothly, and blue ink was a nice change from the usual black.
- An uplifting essential oils blend caused your nerves to settle and pulse to slow.
These are small things, but they’re woven into the fabric of your day. It’s time to notice them.
2. GET SOME FRESH AIR
Go on, get out there! Even ten minutes makes a difference. Remember, being inside, cooped up in the office or tucked away on your smartphone really limits your perspective. Social media is not the real world! Shift your perspective and refresh your mind — spend some intentional time among the trees and flowers.
You and your problems tend to shrink, when seen in contrast with the huge sun and sky.
Remember who made all this! Nature has a Creator. You can learn about an artist by examining His masterpiece. Creation exhales God’s awesomeness.
Not all of us live near a forest or ocean. Sometimes escaping urban life requires a little planning. Hopefully these aren’t too far away:
- A city park — even if it’s a chilly winter day! Bundle up and go for a walk down the street to that little park with the swings. Take off your mittens and squeeze the snow. Notice how scrunchy it is, or maybe it’s dry and your snowball disintegrates.
- A National Park. This is more of a day’s excursion, but why not plan a mindful expedition?
- Your own backyard, if you have one. Many of us don’t have a backyard. I am happy to say that four months ago I finally got one! It’s been about fifteen years since I’ve had a backyard. This one has grass and even some scraggly forest. I’ve spent many a late afternoon, exploring.
3. GET YOUR HANDS DIRTY
Time spent in nature helps grow your gratitude and appreciation for little things. The only tools required are your five senses.
Looking to enhance your time of outdoor discovery? Bring a bag to collect things that draw your eye. Only if it’s legal, considerate, or practical of course. ? That shell on the beach. The pretty stone by the river. These little objects can serve as reminders of the wonder outside your door.
Go Play Outside
Spring and summer are the best! There’s so much life buzzing around outdoors!
I’ve spent hours in the sunshine looking for bugs and frogs — often catching them in my special entomologist-approved container. ? Okay, it’s only kid-approved, but that’s good enough. The case pictured below provides all you need for collecting nature’s little wonders.
Super affordable, this fun colored carrier is available on Amazon at this link: Backyard Exploration Critter Case.
While you’re at it, you’d best grab a big flashlight with cheap replaceable batteries. Looking for frogs and bugs gets much more interesting after dark! You never know what you’ll find.
Just be gentle and always put them back where they came from. ???
4. THANK SOMEONE FOR SOMETHING SMALL
We’re all wrapped up in our own lives, so it’s pretty impressive when another person goes out of their way for you. You can say “thank you” at the moment, or perhaps send a card to them later on. Text yourself a reminder, if you’re forgetful like me.
Here are a couple examples of times I’ve experienced someone’s kindness in the little things — and remembered to thank them:
- The barista at the Starbucks drive-thru sounded so chipper and friendly on the microphone. This was when coronavirus closures were in full swing, and I hadn’t enjoyed my favorite peppermint mocha for months. She truly made my experience memorable, and upon my next visit I brought her a thank you card.
- Having worked in retail for years, I know what it’s like to be treated like a vending machine. It’s so nice when customers engage you, make conversation, and show they genuinely care. As a shopper, I make it a habit to show kindness to the clerks bagging my groceries — smiling at them, thanking them, making eye contact. These things make a difference. They add a bright spot to a long, and often thankless day.
Go ahead and add your own stories to this list! That’s what the comment section is for, below this blog. It’s encouraging to share stories of gratitude. The little things make a difference, and so do your comments. ?
SMALL THINGS, BIG MEANING
While the big events in life are worthy of celebration, it’s the small ones that fill most of your days. The ordinary, the repetitive, and the mundane — these little things — are bursting with opportunity for gratitude.
Sometimes your heart just needs a little reminder from the Holy Spirit.
And maybe a refreshing walk in the woods. ??
I would love to hear from you! Please leave your comments and stories below. Blessings, Ali