Be Faithful in Small Things

Never forget the people who take time out of their day to check up on you…

Recently I was listening to a hospital chaplain talking about life and death situations and how people pull together during times of crisis. He noticed that various loved ones waiting for news or maintaining vigils in the intensive care unit of the hospital all did what they could to support each other and surround each other with kindness and compassion. Sharing a cup of tea and listening to each other helped them in small ways to cope a little bit better in sometimes dire situations. Suddenly all the normal everyday worries and stresses were forgotten and nothing really mattered except the well-being of those they loved and those they knew who were hurting.

It made me think about the importance of small things and the things we often take for granted. Very often, it is the small things in life that matter the most. We read so much about self-improvement, learning to love ourselves, how to manifest more of this or that, and how to reach for the sun, moon and stars etc, etc, which is all well and good, but do we really learn how to just let go, be at peace with the world and face the day? After all, today may be all we have.

How do we make the most of today?

What if we made it a habit to embrace and celebrate the small things? Real life is happening all around us while we’re waiting for the big thing we hope is going to give us some sort of inner peace, contentment or joy.

Sometimes the best way to remember the value of small things is to look for random acts of kindness you can do for others. Don’t underestimate the power of taking time to phone a friend you are concerned about, or inviting someone who’s had a bad day for an impromptu afternoon tea, volunteering a few hours a week at a charity shop or offering to drive someone for an appointment if they are struggling.

Forget about the need to be noticed.

It’s so easy to feel like we are being overlooked at home, at work or in our community when we are doing the small, faithful things, because they are usually not the glamorous things. It can feel 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, no matter how small, it helps us be secure in who we are and eliminates the need to be constantly noticed.

Take some time out.

Our daily lives move so fast. A hectic lifestyle 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 children or grandchildren laughing and actually getting along in the back seat; enjoy the cool, crisp air of the first day of autumn, or take a walk around the block to clear your mind and give yourself a mental break. Work and responsibilities will still be there when you return.

Practice gratitude – gratitude does bring happiness.

Yes, I know, I know, you probably just rolled your eyes at this because it is something you hear so often, but it is true. The more thankful we are for what we have, the less inclined we are to focus on what we don’t have. Gratitude helps us value the small things we often take for granted because we start paying attention to the good things in life. Some days, it can be as exciting as getting rewarded for doing something well, and some days it might just be that your coffee tasted good that morning. I’ve found that my overall attitude toward life in general is better if I make myself think of three things I’m thankful for at the end of each day. I often write them down and put them in a little gratitude jar a kind friend made for me.

There are times in life when we yearn for big moments. Perhaps we hope for events that will propel us into the limelight, even for a short while. But, strangely enough, life has a funny way of teaching us as we go along in ways we didn’t expect, and looking back down the years it’s not necessarily the big moments that made our lives as such, but the everyday commitment to all the things we held dear.

When there is sadness in our lives the world keeps on turning but we don’t notice it. People still go about their daily lives and we may wonder why this can be when our own world is upside down. We wonder why we ever got upset about a petty argument yesterday. What really matters to us? Not the political situations that endlessly play out in front of us. Not the state of the world economy or the latest escapades of those claiming their moment of fame on reality television. What matters to most of us is chatting to our loved ones at the end of the day, sharing a meal with friends around the kitchen table, the light in our partners eyes when they look at us from across a crowded room, and the sound of our children’s laughter. What matters to us is all the small things that add up to the biggest things. What matters to us is love.

Be faithful in small things because it is in them that you find your strength…

2018 – Make it Easy on Yourself…

Look at most magazine and news articles this time of year and many of them refer to our New Year’s Resolutions; perhaps urging us to set new goals, sweep aside the excesses of last year and stride forth with new and renewed vigour. We are advised to cleanse our bodies and our minds and look to a new and exciting future. Perhaps we are then inspired to sit down and write a long list of all the things we would like to achieve in 2018. This is all good and well-intentioned and in principle I have no argument with it. What I would say though, is that it can all be too much in one go and the longer the list the more likely we are to fail.

Reflect. Revise. Renew.

Sometimes breaking those resolutions before the month of January is out is enough to send us into a downward spiral and is counterproductive. I would like to urge you to be gentle with yourself this time of year; go easy on yourself and take time to focus on what is really best for you.

January is both a new month and the start to a new year, and while that should fill us with renewed enthusiasm, that enthusiasm can take a while to kick in! Dark mornings don’t help –when you feel as though you are getting up in the middle of the night and the daylight hours are very short it is hard to be upbeat. But it is possible to reframe the gloomy, dark morning; perhaps think of the darker hours as a time of preparation for the lighter days that will follow. When we look around a garden or the countryside this time of year it appears bare and dull, and yet underneath the soil the plants and bulbs are busy preparing themselves to unfold in the spring. Gardens are slowly testing the waters; a few buds tentatively unfurling as if checking to see if the world is ready for them. So maybe we should follow the example from Mother Nature. Rather than be tempted to rush headlong into the New Year perhaps we should take a more gradual approach.

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It is good to first reflect on what has been before and ask ourselves a few questions:

What did I do to contribute to my successes?
What did I do to contribute to any disappointments?
What can I do differently this year?
Most of all: what do I fondly remember that made me happy?

If you had a successful year last year, well done! Look at all you did to bring that success, but be sure that success is taking you where you want to go and making you happy. Even though your year was successful, would you do anything differently?

It is easy to dwell too much on past mistakes; however a bit of reflection can help us decide what we want to change in the future. If we reflect, we can forgive ourselves or others for past hurts and then focus on the path ahead. Most people, I think, try their best on any given day and being hard on ourselves and heaping on unachievable demands isn’t helpful. Any disappointments can be looked at positively; if we can learn from these disappointments and avoid them in the future then our character will become stronger.

What happened last year to make you happy? Make those happy memories your ‘go to’ place in your mind when you have a bad day. When we feel happy, everything falls into place and is as it should be. Happiness is not measured differently whether we are rich or poor, by what we have or don’t have. It is more likely to be measured by a loving hug or a simple gift of a bunch of snowdrops on a frosty day.

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Once we have cleared our body, heart and mind of weight we then give ourselves new energy and will be more able to stick to a new and healthier diet. With that we will also have a healthier mental outlook. But again, go easy on yourself. You do your best and if you really want your life to be different, tackle it one project at a time! When we feel ready, we can make careful choices and commitments we can keep, like pursuing optimal health, following someone or something which inspires us or contributing to a good cause in a significant manner.

We can work at creating a desired future, worthy of our time and energy.
Reflect. Revise. Renew. Be Happy!

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A favourite pathway – the lamps still glowing on an early morning walk……