The power of little things

Prasanth Aby Thomas
Published: January 2014

We can’t deny the fact that we live in one of the busiest times in history. In fact it would even be safe to say that at no other point in history people would have struggled this much to keep up with their professional and personal commitments without going insane.

And yet a lot of us are living with a strong will and wish to do better, which would require that we balance our work and life efficiently.  Researchers and experts offer us a number of solutions to improve our potential but most often theories and methods are incomplete and insufficient. This is mostly due to the fact that each human being is unique and its not easy to develop an umbrella solution to such issues.

The intention of this blog post is not to add to the myriad of self help and motivational writings freely available on the web. In fact, although I think there aren’t much people to speak authentically on the issue, there is no dearth of rewriters and copyists who can recreate an idea to present as their own.

My intention is to bring your focus to the smaller, more subtle aspects of life. To be more precise, I am talking about the power of small things in life and house some of the most neglected aspects are actually more important that ever. I was led down this line of thought by a book by Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval. The book itself is quite unassumingly named The power of small (interestingly the book is not that big in size either).

We often notice big changes in our life. A major shift in job -better offer, getting married, buying a new house, there are quite a few of them in everyone’s life. But we often get caught up in these major changes that we fail to focus on the smaller changes in life. We look forward only to major milestones that when things don’t happen the way we like to happen, we are depressed and feel let down by fate. We begin to blame situations, other people and quite often, ourselves.

If you take a moment to pause and look close, there are a number of small changes to your life that  are more frequent. In fact very often we don’t notice them to the extend that we take it for granted. For example, years ago, a good friend of mine decided that he wanted to start a business. He did not have any experience in business, but decided to give it a go and take it as it comes. Today he is a successful businessman, but when I ask him what contributed to his success, he does not have any major factors to point out. He says a lot of aspects of success is what he learnt from everyday life. Dealing with small problems helped him be prepared when major problems and roadblocks hit his business.

There is an old saying that one should never forget to stop and smell the roses in life. We often fly through our life that we don’t see the beauty of it. To be frank we are not even grateful to be alive, until we face a situation that hurts health.

We have all heard of small talk. To many its a waste of time. But let me tell you, small talks go a long way in building relationships, whichever kind they are. Topics of small talk may seem useless and pointless but the important factor is not the content itself, but the fact that it brings two people close. This is why a lot of successful people  make sure that they always have a few random topics to talk about when they go to gatherings where they want to network with people. Small talk paves way for bigger, more serious talk and when people communicate well, great things happen.

Small aspects build your personality as well and goes a long way in setting a great impression of yourself on others. For example holding the door open for someone else or letting someone else share your umbrella on a rainy day would seem like unimportant when compared to finishing a business project or closing a sales deal but the former actually do go a long way in helping to achieving the latter.

I often come across people who work so hard but do not succeed in their endeavours. They often don’t understand why they do not succeed and are miserably at a loss when asked why. In my observation, these people do not pay attention to small things. They are so focused on the major work that they don’t see what they are missing.

Life is not a long single stretch. It is often made of small parts. In fact we can break it up into how much ever parts we want and quite often its better to break it down as much as we can. On a particularly bad day at work or study, can you pause for a moment? Take a breath and find some aspects of that day that may have been positive? Often what happens on a bad day is that bad things lead to more bad things. A disastrous meeting with a client in the morning would have ruined your mood and this would have hurt all other work you did during the day and hence ruined them as well.

There is always a debate on what is important in life. We all strive to remain happy but happiness has different meaning to different people. At times we choose methods that seem right to us, at other times, we just go with the flow. A shift in focus to the smaller things in life would make you more conscious of yourself and help you understand better. Needless to say this would only help you improve as a human being.