Do you ever lament that you didn’t live up to a certain ideal or potential in life? Do you wish you could have a big impact on the world? Do you ever dream you could be great at something? I have, especially when I watch a great musical performer. I wonder what it’s like to have such a huge talent, but I’ve learned to just appreciate each person’s gifts. I used to think I should be responsible for something great in life, but I have changed my perspective. That is not to say I believe anyone should be mediocre, but I think small things are a great place to put our attention.
Have you heard someone say “I’m no Mother Theresa,” meaning they’re not perfect? In fact, she was a most humble woman and never attributed any great act to herself. She is often quoted as saying, “In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.”
When you think about how you impact the world on a daily basis, people probably don’t judge your career success or accomplishments or whether your house is perfectly clean each day. But the grocery clerk will notice if you remembered her name. Your child will notice if you made her favorite meal or took a few minutes to listen. Your coworkers will notice if you help un-jam the copy machine and try to be a pleasant person with whom to work.
A November Redbook Magazine article shares small gestures that couples use to show their love. A wife sneaks a dog toy into her husband’s suitcase to remind him of home. A husband surprises his wife with freshly ironed clothes. One man is excited that his wife listens to details about his basketball game. Several of them regularly leave little love notes around for their spouse, either text messages, love letters or sticky notes. These are the little things that keep love alive and relationships strong.
Not to be outdone by the love birds, acts by strangers are highlighted in a recent Woman’s Day article. A mother of three secretly paid for a soldier’s coffee and muffin, and felt good all day. Another was blessed when a stranger gave her and her son an umbrella and jacket while in the rain. One person even gave away a piano he wasn’t using to a child who was learning to play and was visiting a church each day to practice because he didn’t have one.
If you’ve ever been to a funeral, these are the stories that get told, the acts of kindness, generosity and love. The great presentations given to management won’t be remembered.
Once you feel like you have the hang of doing small things with great love, you might consider upping the ante. CNN recently highlighted the top 10 everyday heroes who made a big difference in seemingly small ways, from rebuilding houses in New Orleans to educating children in extreme poverty or crossing the border each day to feed hungry children in Mexico. Many of them used very small amounts of money to make a great big difference. Go to www.cnn.com for inspiration, or consider supporting a charity close to your own heart.
How will your children remember you? Your spouse? Your friends? What do you hope they will say about you?