Why Little Things Matter

I just finished reading the book, 13 Reasons Why. I know I’m a little late to the party as the book was published several years ago and Netflix has since come out with a very popular series based on it, but I’m beginning to see what all the hype was about it. For those who aren’t familiar with this story, it’s based on a teen girl who commits suicide and sends a set of recordings to the people who contributed to her decision to end her life. In addition to the acclaim this fictional story has received, there’s been plenty of backlash from people feeling that the story glamorizes teen suicide. I understand this perspective, but have found deep value in one of the core messages of the book – little things matter.

In the tapes, the victim shares how little actions led to bigger repercussions for her. One example is how a “typical” high school joke snowballed into a bad reputation for this new-to-town girl. I’m not here to provide a detailed book review, nor will I be delving into the deep-rooted issues that face our youth today. The aspect of the book that I think we all can relate to is how impactful small things can be. An unkind word, a cold shoulder, inconsiderate behavior that may be small in the scheme of things, but can have a lasting impact on us.

We are in such a divisive state as a country right now. We are focused on so many big, important happenings, and that’s good. But these can often leave us feeling small, powerless, and overwhelmed. That’s not to say, of course, that we shouldn’t try to work on the big issues, but we also shouldn’t lose sight of the little, seemingly less important issues of human interaction. A smile, a kind word, a hug. These little actions can make a lasting impact.

In reading 13 Reasons Why, I felt for the victim, but I also felt for some of those people she called out in her recordings. Many of the behaviors were inconsiderate, and, most of the time, unintentionally hurtful.  I have unintentionally hurt people many times throughout my life, many occasions I’m sure I’m not aware of to this day. That’s the unintentional part. But just because I didn’t mean to hurt someone, doesn’t mean I’m totally off the hook. Last week I talked about living more fully in the present, and this is a perfect example. If we can focus on getting out of our head’s and being present with our interactions, we are less likely to miss the cues others are sending us.

As lovely as it would be to donate hundreds of dollars to important causes, donate hours every week to worthy events, or attend rallies to support a view we believe in, those aren’t the only ways to make a difference. Offering a smile to someone who you expect usually doesn’t get one, complimenting a service worker, thanking a vet, leaving a message for someone to let them know you’re thinking of them and they matter to you – these are all small ripples that may become exactly what someone clings to in order to get through a tough day.  These little things matter.

So, the next time you think you aren’t making a difference, think about what little actions you could take to brighten someone’s day. You may never know what that small, kind gesture means to someone, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t made a very powerful impact.

What’s a small action someone took that really made a difference to you or one that you know had the potential to impact someone else’s? Share in the comments.

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email April@AuthenticLifeChronicles.com 

Comments

  1. I have often seen where little things matter. The most recent example was when I was at the mall and smiled at someone and said hello as I was about to pass them. He stopped me and said, “Thank you! I was having a really bad day and you are the first person that Meade me feel like someone saw me. Most people pass me by because they made assumptions based on my appearance. So thank you.” I should mention that he was tattooed, pierced, and dressed very goth. And I live in a very conservative Texas town.

    All it was wa a hello and a smile. But it made a difference to his day.

    You are right. The little things really can matter.

    • Mira, what a PERFECT example!! I love that you also received the gift of knowing how your little act made a big difference to that gentleman. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful example!!

  2. I have read a true story that a lady boarded the train after work and sat next to a man she never met. She smiled to him and they started talking all the way. The next day she received a thank-you letter from that stranger, because that guy was thinking of committing a suicide that day after the train ride but she saved him by talking with him. Sometimes when you do small kind deeds to others, it changes their life, but you never know.

  3. Thanks for the reminder. I sometimes find myself paralyzed by what’s happening in our world and want to make a big difference. Staying focused and present on the moment opens up the possibility for many small acts that make a big difference.

  4. Could not agree more. The little things snowball into mountains…that can be something as horribly ignorant and hurtful as a racial slur or the comments of a man currently in power—he who shall not be named–spewing scary and broke brain rhetoric against women, race, sexual orientation etc. However, I do believe, like you…the little things can be so positive. For we entrepreneurs, we see and hear it when we may least expect it…a client, a blog reader expressing how the littlest comment, smile, video, blog post made their day turn around. We all are on the same boat (world) we can use our energy to hurt or heal. The more we heal our own hurt and then reach out to offer healing in any form…no matter how small, it changes the world for the better. Kudos.

  5. I love this April. We so often underestimate the impact something as simple as a smile or simply being fully present to those to whom we come into contact. It can literally change their lives.

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