Sitting, staring out the window at a crisp blue sky, the clouds glowing with sunlight, the Frankfurt skyline appearing in gray-blue silhouette from afar, I see a wrought iron balcony just across the way. Said balcony is furnished with a tiny wooden table for two. White Chinese lanterns that bob like balloons hang from overhead. Lit candles placed on the table add small orbs of light to the inviting scene. The entire thing is utterly charming, beckoning one to sit and enjoy a leisurely brunch or relax with a steaming mug and book in hand.
This is one of the “little things.”
So much of our lives are spent chasing after and anticipating what we deem to be life's most important milestones. Or in other words, “the big things.”
These include experiences or achievements such as: getting married (finally, then I will be “secure,” many of us tend to find ourselves thinking. “Then it will all be figured out.” Not quite, but more on that here, as its a separate topic). Being promoted at work, going on vacation, buying a house, having your first child, “when I make my first million,” etc. The list of “big ones” is fairly straight forward.
The majority of us live our lives chasing what we feel are these major milestones. The ones that, upon having achieved or experienced, we are told will result in our lives finally feeling fulfilled. Yet, many find themselves confused and deflated, wondering why, when they have finally obtained these things, their lives dont necessarily feel any more satisfying or fulfilled. Many may find they are ashamed to admit having feelings of being left wanting. But I finally have it all, they wonder. So why dont I feel different?
Too much focus is placed on these “big things.” The ones that our society tells us are measures of a life that includes success and, what they assure us will then inevitably follow, that elusive happiness.
There are certainly people who are thrilled with their lives upon reaching the “big” markers that we have been told are the high points of life. People who are not only satisfied with reaching said “big ones” in the moment, but who revel in the joy of having achieved these milestones long afterwards as well. But for many, this isnt the case. Many, after feeling an initial rush, settle back into feeling the same way they felt before. And then wonder, what went wrong? Why isnt my life complete and awesome yet, after having experienced one of those milestones?
This is because we assume that the “big ones” are the bricks with which the path to ultimate life happiness and fulfillment is lain.
This, like MANY aspects of the way society tells us life “should” be lived and experienced, is false.
Much of life's joy and richness is actually found in the smaller moments and things. Dont believe me? Just take a look. This list is an endless one, but to name a few of the “little things” in life that are special and superb:
— A certain kind of look from someone to whom you are attracted
— Opening your email inbox to find a sweet message from a friend
— Receiving a heartfelt compliment
— Falling into a gripping, powerful read which has you turning page after page
— Having a particularly entertaining or poignant conversation with someone, in which the two of you feel quite connected
— Buying flowers and putting them on your desk or dresser to enjoy
— Eating a delicious meal or savouring a yummy dessert
— Spending time with a favorite friend
— Curling up under a warm blanket
— Reading something particularly moving/memorable, or, (if you are a writer), writing something that comes out especially articulate and lyrical
— The glow and rush you feel after a kick-ass workout
— Recalling a favorite memory from your life (whether a travel adventure, a romantic moment, an exciting one, etc)
— Riding a rollercoaster
— The feeling of walking outside on a breezy, mild summer day. The sun shining, the air ruffling your hair, it feels fabulous and rejuvenating
— A brisk autumn day, colorful leaves rustling against the curb, your coat pulled tight, a hot drink in hand, the trees an explosion of fiery shades
— The flicker of candlelight. Always flattering, ever romantic.
— Bubble baths
— Game nights with friends
— Sliding in between fresh, clean bedsheets
— Being surprised (in a good way) by someone you like/care about
— Feeling loved/cared about by someone whom you also love/care about
I could go on.
The point is, life is made up of hundreds of “little” moments which, when added together, are actually something huge and real.
In fact, life, our real lives, is lived in these moments. These moments are our life.
The “big ones” that everyone is ever striding towards (marriage, the house, a promotion, the baby, the vacation), these are generally good things. Some of them even beautiful. But spending your entire life racing towards them with tunnel vision presents major risk of a life that can go largely unlived. It can mean missing out on so much day to day beauty and richness, because you are so focused on the next big thing.
Living, truly living, means reveling in and noticing the little, special moments that we are offered each and every day. And there are usually several of these “little moments” sprinkled throughout each. How awesome is that? So many opportunities to find joy, thrill and wonder with being alive.
Truly living and thus, feeling joy as a result, means noticing the way a friend spent time to write you a long email. It means putting aside the smart phone for an hour to actually delve into an awesome read, totally immersing and engaging yourself within.
Really living life means holding on to the extraordinary people in your life, the ones you love deeply and whose company bring you joy. It means ignoring the traffic after work (since you cannot change it) and singing along to the song on the radio, smiling and enjoying yourself.
It means taking care of yourself (getting enough sleep, nourishing your body with things that are good for you, which ultimately make you feel great). Living life to the fullest means going on that adventure, even though it scares you. It means putting aside the petty grievance and picking up the phone because you love them.
It means looking around and reveling in the scent of flowers in the air, the sun on your face, stopping to enjoy the taste of something yummy as opposed to just shoveling it in your mouth. It means pausing to truly listen, instead of always being the one to talk, or of ever filling your mind with what your will say the moment its your turn.
It means, focusing more on the little things as opposed to the societally decided, supposedly ever important, “big ones.”
It means realizing that actually, the little things, of which there are handfuls of within each and every day, are the big ones.