Updated: Jan 26
Written by: Amber Stephenson, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
Since childhood, every one of us has been trained to focus on the big things —weddings, new cars, once in a lifetime vacations, winning the lottery...
But what about the little things?
Most people will tell you not to worry about them — that they’re not a big deal. That’s what makes them little things, and changing them isn’t worth your time.
But what if those people are wrong?
What if the little things are actually the most important ones to get right?
I don’t remember many details from my wedding day. I remember feelings of happiness and joy and my husband crying during his vows. That day is mostly a feeling.
But I can tell you exactly how many times I’ve asked him to put up a new coat rack for our toddlers: twice a week for 2 months.
There’s an analogy someone came up years ago about filling up a jar. They say that the various parts of your life are like different sized objects, from sand (small things) to marbles (big things), and that if you put the sand in first, you won’t have any space for the marbles. But if you put the marbles in first, you can fill in the gaps with sand.
This is technically true and works very well for jars... but not so well for people.
The things is, big things, by their nature, are rare. They don’t happen very often, and so their effect on our lives is actually limited.
But the small details of what we do in a day, the way we speak to ourselves and others, the way we move our bodies, all the things we do on autopilot – these things fill in the gaps between the big events of our lives – and they also define who we are.
We are, in a very real sense, the sum of all our habits. Our morning routines, the way we slouch at our desks, or prop our hips, how we prioritize our time – the combination of these things make each of us unique, and these, not our big life events, are actually what determine how we experience our lives.
Imagine, for a moment, spending 40 years fighting with your spouse over the proper way to fold a towel or whether knives should be put in the dishwasher blade up or down (the correct answer is down, btw).
Does that sound like a life you want to live?
It doesn’t sound good to me, and here’s why.
When the little things go wrong, it’s like rubbing sandpaper over your skin. Rubbing it a couple of times won't hurt much, if at all. But rubbing it on your skin repeatedly creates an angry, sore spot that needs to be healed over a long time.
This can be corrected and even avoided by taking an honest look at the things you do in your everyday life and asking yourself:
Does this make me genuinely happy in my soul?
Does this take me closer to where I want to be?
If the answer to both of those questions is yes, then make that a non-negotiable in your life.
If the answer to only one of these is yes, then maybe some tweaking is in order. Maybe it needs to be a schedule change or some other small shift that will turn that into an unequivocal yes.
If the answer to both questions is no, then it’s time to let that thing go.
Change is scary and can feel overwhelming. But sometimes, if we can be brave, we can experience the relief that comes from letting go of things that don’t serve us and the joy of new possibilities.
Amber Stephenson, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Amber Stephenson is a Master Transformational Coach who specializes in helping women who struggle to reach their goals to identify what's holding them back and shift into success. She's on a mission to empower women to be their most powerful, authentic selves while building lives they love and making their dreams come true.
Amber is a rockstar coach, a dedicated wife, mother of four, insatiable reader and avid gamer.