how to value the small things


A few months ago I was shopping in Target and I found myself in the kitchen section.  Since I was killing time before I had to pick up my daughter from school, I lingered in the aisles a little longer than I normally would and a large four-cup measuring cup caught my eye.  I thought to myself that I've always wanted a four-cup measuring cup because it would make baking and cooking so much easier, yet I've never bought one.  So in that moment, I threw caution to the wind and put that four-cup measuring cup in my cart.  It was $4.99.  FOUR DOLLARS AND NINETY-NINE CENTS.  And now I use it all the time, which makes me wonder why on earth I waited so long to buy this small, inexpensive thing that has made such a difference in my life?  I realize you're probably wondering how lame my life is that I'm this excited about a new measuring cup, but it ended up being a moment that changed the way I view the small moments in life. 

We all have them, those small moments or things that often go unnoticed or unappreciated because we either think they're insignificant or we take them for granted because we live in a culture that celebrates the big accomplishment. But what if we made it a habit to embrace and celebrate the small? Real life is what is happening all around us while we’re waiting for the big thing that we hope is going to give us some sort of inner peace, contentment or joy, when the truth is that often the things that matter most are the small ones.

how to value the small things with Melanie Shankle on the Belong Magazine Blog

Here are a few ways I've learned to value the small things:

1.  Treat yo' self /

Donna Meagle and Tom Haverford on Parks and Recreation were right, sometimes you need to treat yourself to something.  It doesn't have to be something as dumb as a measuring cup.  Buy the shoes, get the new handbag, read the book, play a round of golf on a beautiful day, or eat the ice cream. 

Life is better when you give yourself permission to take advantage of the fact that you're a grown up and can occasionally splurge on some little thing that will make you happy.

2.   Look for ways to give back /

Sometimes the best way to remember the value of small things is to look for random acts of kindness that you can do for others.  Don't underestimate the power of delivering a meal to a sick friend, inviting a new co-worker to eat lunch with you, volunteering a few hours a week at a nursing home, or offering to drive carpool when it's not your turn but you know your friend is having a busy week.

3.  Slow down /

Our daily life moves so fast.  We rush from meeting to meeting and are often attempting to fit thirty-two hours worth of activities into a twenty-four hour day.  This hectic schedule can cause us to overlook all the little joys life has to offer.  Don't be afraid to make time to literally stop and smell the roses.  Listen to the sound of your kids laughing and actually getting along in the backseat of the car, enjoy the cool, crisp air of the first fall day, or take a walk around the block to clear your mind and give yourself a mental break.

4.  Free yourself from the pressure of needing to be noticed /

It's so easy to feel like we are being overlooked at home, in the workplace or in our community when we are doing the small, faithful things because they are usually not the glamorous things.  It can feel a lot more gratifying to be the loudest voice in the room, but we need to remember that just because a voice is the loudest doesn't mean it's the one making the biggest difference. 

When we can get to a point where we find value in our contributions, it helps us be secure in who we are and eliminates the need to be constantly noticed. 

5.  Practice gratitude / 

I know, I know, you probably just rolled your eyes at this because it sounds like something your mom used to tell you.  But it's true.  The more thankful we are for what we have, the less inclined we are to focus on what we don't have.  This helps us value the small things we often take for granted because we start to pay attention to the good things in life.  Some days that can be as exciting as getting a promotion at work and some days it may just be that your coffee tasted good that morning.  I've found that my overall attitude towards life in general is better if I make myself mentally check off three things I'm thankful for at the end of each day.

I used to be a member of the church of big moments.  But in that funny way life has of teaching as you go, I've learned over the years that it’s usually not the big moments that make up a life as much as it is the small ones.  It’s not going to college and setting up a dorm room that makes you an adult, but the discipline of showing up for class, studying for tests, and learning that maybe Jello shots are a bad idea.  It’s not the wedding ceremony that makes you a married couple, but the daily commitment to stay in love. And it’s not giving birth or signing adoption papers that makes you a mom, but braiding hair and kissing scraped knees and listening to someone sound out the word “cat” until you want to gnaw your arm off to make it stop.

Vincent Van Gogh probably once said, "I wish I didn't cut off my ear," but he legitimately said, “Great things are done by a series of small things brought together," and I believe that's why valuing the small moments is the key to living a life that has meaning and significance beyond what we can imagine.  These are the things that lead to greatness.


Melanie Shankle is the author of The Big Mama Blog, in addition to three New York Times bestselling books, Sparkly Green Earrings, The Antelope in the Living Room, and Nobody’s Cuter Than You. Her new book, Church of the Small Things, will release on October 3, 2017. Melanie lives with her husband and daughter in Texas. You can find Melanie at: 

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