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Big Things and Small Things Make Up a Satisfying Life

In this post I’d like to think about big things and small things and what makes something important.


The Big

There is a stream of self development that tells you to not settle for small, to play big, make an impact and so on. To which I feel attracted and which makes me feel tired.


I think the attraction is that it feels like liberation. Which means that, for me, the small feels like inhibition – holding myself back.


The tiredness is because it feels to me like yet another demand. And one which others get to determine whether I meet or not. Whether you make an impact is only shown by others. You can be a courageous and caring as a saint and if others don’t respond you haven’t made an impact.


It feels to me that to go big is liberating for those who were inhibited and not affirmed. The danger being it can be a set up – you become a prisoner to results; which are rarely entirely in your control.


The Small

Contentment is an undervalued virtue I think. We are encouraged to work – and increasingly as some kind of joyless duty. We are encouraged to strive for more and ‘not settle’. Being always discontent is a pretty unattractive kind of morality I think.


And I also enjoy times of being full-on. Doing something totally and with all the energy and attention that I have. Contentment can get to feel stale and tedious.


My feeling is that contentment is liberating for those who were rewarded only for achievement and not celebrated for who they are. Contentment can leave you stuck in a mildly unsatisfactory situation – happy surviving rather than thriving.


The Important

The big picture is important.

  • We need a sense of our purpose and that what we do matters – usually especially to those we are close to.
  • Your goals or values can help you make choices.


Small details matter

  • An overlooked detail can bring a project undone
  • Most of your life is taken up with quite mundane things – attending to eating, relating to a few individuals, getting sleep and exercise. These things not attended to can have serious consequences.


The Big is Realised Through the Small

A major project or goal usually means dealing with small steps or sub-goals.

  1. To remedy the crisis in Western culture (which I’m convinced is spiritual) can mean trying to communicate the importance of the spiritual dimension of life in the self development blogosphere. Which means writing posts and explaining what is meant by spirituality and so on.
  2. To contribute to solving the crisis in the cost of health care in the Western cultures means finding alternatives to expensive technology (pills and machines). For the lifestyle diseases that make up an increasing percentage of the cost of health care this means helping people live healthy lives, through good urban design, job re-design and helping people understand their own agency (that their choices can improve their experience) – a self development blog can assist with the last of these. There are also the various lower-tech health options – talk therapy being the lowest tech; I’m convinced that much of our distress is to do with our thoughts and feelings.


The Small Embodies the Big

  1. The difference between caring and indifference can be a matter of a gesture or slightly different tone of voice.
  2. Craftsmanship and a dedication to quality is often a matter of observation and patience and putting in the time to do the important things well.



Which do you find most easy to be in touch with? The big or the small? And does it vary – so that you in touch with big stuff in some things and small stuff in others?  Let me know in the comments.




I'm Evan Hadkins. To find out how to live a more satisfying life you can download my manifesto on living authentically. It is a book of exercises to guide you to finding, nourishing and living from the core of who you are.

If you would like me to write about some aspect of living an authentic life please don't hesitate to get in touch. There is a box in the sidebar where you can leave a question anonymously if you wish, or you can email me, use the contact page, or comment on this post.

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