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Your Morning Cup of Inspiration

There is an oft-cited quote that goes, “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.” That sounds nice, doesn’t it? But the older I get, the more I realize that those big, breath-taking moments aren’t what create a good life.

Of course, the big moments – births, graduations, engagements, weddings, trips, etc. – are important. But they are few and far between. The reality is that life is made up of the daily, small stuff. And it is how we take care of our small stuff that determines whether we will be happy.

Consider your relationships. How many times do you hear women complain, “He never tells me he loves me,” and the husband responds, “I told her on our wedding day!” Telling someone you love them once is not enough. Daily saying “I love you,” putting your arm around your spouse, and holding his or her hand are some of the small things spouses do to lay the foundation for a good marriage.

In fact, it is the seemingly insignificant gestures that make all the difference in marriage. For instance, when I was a kid, I once saw my uncle shine my aunt’s boots. She is a stylish dresser and was about to run out the door on a work matter. He said to her, “Hang on,” and he quickly polished her leather boots so that she would look just so. It was about the most romantic thing I’d ever seen. In happy marriages, spouses regularly do small, extra things for each other that say, “You are special to me. I want to be good to you.”

Our relationships with our children are the same way. We put a lot of effort into getting the right Christmas presents for our kids each year, and that is fine. We want them to receive something nice during the holidays. However, there are 364 days each year beyond Christmas. The rest of the year is about the cups of tea that you give your son when he has a cold. It is about cheering for your daughter at her soccer games. It is about making sure that your kids have warm clothes to wear in the winter, and healthy lunches to take to school. Those things are boring, but they are what make children feel secure and loved. When it comes to our families, it is all about the small stuff.

Having good health is a significant part of our quality of life. But being healthy doesn’t come from big accomplishments, like running a marathon or climbing Kilimanjaro. It comes from the little things that we do each day. For instance, there is no glory in exercising thirty minutes every day. It won’t turn you into a triathlete or make you look like a supermodel. But if you stick with it, those thirty minutes will make you feel substantially better. Your clothes will fit better, and you’ll move with greater agility. And if you consistently exercise thirty minutes a day, not only will you live longer, but you’ll be better able to enjoy your time on this earth.

Even the little choices we make around the house can make a huge difference to our personal happiness. At the end of every evening, if you tidy up, put your clothes in the hamper, and do all the dinner dishes, you will wake up to a more pleasant house. If you make your bed in the morning and wash all your breakfast dishes, you will return to a home that is inviting. Now walking into a clean house or apartment every evening isn’t going to take your breath away. But I can assure you that living in a lovely, well-organized home will make you a more relaxed and peaceful person.

The small things even matter in our spiritual life. Certainly we may have big spiritual moments. For example, publically making a commitment to a particular faith, such as through baptism or confirmation, is one. But those big spiritual moments signal the beginning of a faith journey. They aren’t the whole story.

We create a rich spiritual life through the little things that we do each day. Part of that is starting each morning in prayer or meditation. Our spiritual life continues during the day when we consciously act in ways that reflect our faith. Many of us renew our minds by regularly attending religious services. And some of us read spiritual texts to help us to think about our purpose on this earth. Admittedly, there is nothing glamourous about a regular spiritual practice. However, it is the key to having a meaningful life that is driven by something beyond our own base needs and wants.

Truly, it is our day-to-day choices that create the foundation for a happy life. When it comes to happiness, it is all about the small stuff. So be sure to take care of your small stuff so that you can create the life that you desire.

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