Dear Past Me, focus on the small stuff

‘Focus on the small stuff’ has almost become a cliche. It’s the mantra of every self-help coach, the driving concept behind many successful books and the topic of copious podcasts. You’ve probably heard it from a well-intentioned older relative. Yet despite the overexposure and seemingly obviousness of this phrase, it was probably one of the most profound lessons you’ve learned. We live in a culture wherein we derive pleasure from the ‘big’ things. That lovely holiday, that incredible concert, that amazing achievement. Social media would have us believe that these ‘big’ things are regular occurrences in the lives of others. The constant circulation of photographs celebrating especially rare or special events, has led to the perception that they are neither rare nor special. This is sad for two reasons. Firstly, it means that we can never appreciate the magnitude of a very special event because it seems commonplace. It probably doesn’t stand out in the social media jigsaw of ‘life-changing’ moments. But more importantly, it stops us from noticing or seeking the smaller pleasures. The ones that can’t be posted online or just form part of our regular routine. When you start to collect these moments or be aware of the enjoyment you derive from them, it will take a lot of pressure off the constant and tiresome search for those exhilarating and exciting experiences. Your day to day life will become, as embarrassing as it sounds, punctuated by small pleasures and a sense of contentment. And when something big does happen now, you able to recognise it for the fantastic thing that it is.

Laila Ghaffar