The Small Things are Worth Celebrating
Charles W. Chestnutt, the late eighteen century author and political activist wrote, “We sometimes underestimate the influence of little things.”
It is easy to do it — underestimate something due to its size. We set these big goals or expectations for ourselves and for others, and when they aren’t met or when things come short of our expectations, we feel defeated. We tend to overlook all the little goals or mini achievements that happen along the way and those are worth noting. It is the little things that are worth celebrating and right now we could all use more to celebrate.
We wouldn’t overlook the smaller efforts that our students showcase in the classroom knowing that those efforts are key to learning something new or are part of mastering a new skill, and yet we don’t tend to give ourselves the same permission to celebrate those smaller efforts. We look to measure success on whether or not we achieve a certain goal, not necessarily about the journey it takes to get to that goal. Ralph Waldo Emerson got it right when saying, “Life is a journey, not a destination.” Transformation can often look ordinary, slow and even trite in it’s process, but it’s those moments that can be the most rewarding. All you need to do to see the importance of this in action, is watch a child take its first steps, mumble its first words and work towards to pividal milestone all the while taking teeny-tini efforts to get there.
Still not convinced? What if celebrating and noting the small wins could in fact help you reach those bigger goals you have in mind? Acknowledging the small wins can help boost one’s self confidence and can help work in your favor to achieve bigger ones. Everytime we perceive a victory regardless of its size, our brains release dopamine into our reward pathway which helps to trigger positive emotions. That reaction can actually help us to focus and push us to repeat the behavior again and again, all of which can help one achieve a larger goal. It’s a win-win!
Not sure how to celebrate the smaller wins in life? Try some of these tiny tips:
- Keep a victory journal: It doesn’t have to be much, just take a moment at the end of the day to reflect on those small wins that you had throughout the day. We have to start somewhere, and making not of those little steps in the right direction can be motivating to stay the course. Here are some simple sentence starters to get you on the right track.
- By doing ___________, I am one step closer to my goal of _________.
- Today I get to celebrate that I did ____________.
- Make a list: It feels good to cross off items on our to do list and can provide that sense of control when other things in life might not feel as such.
- Acknowledge it: Don’t just celebrate the big end goal. Try to recognize and acknowledge hitting those smaller milestones, and then celebrate your persistence in reaching each one of them. Unsure how to get started? Outline all the steps that you need to take to reach a larger goal you have in mind. Now take those steps and turn them into mini goals. Once you have met each of those mini goals, make sure you celebrate that. It can be simply crossing them off your list, rewarding yourself with an extra piece of chocolate that evening or if you are a visual person, you can take note from the classroom with a sticker chart or the good old “X” to indicate completion.
- Take a celebration lap: Again doesn’t have to be big, but even a little “Woohoo” after accomplishing something small as it may be can go a long way and can help our brains better recognize when we are achieving those small victories.
- Take a moment of gratitude: Rome wasn’t built in a day, let alone a year, so give yourself a break sometimes. Try to focus on at least one part of your day that was positive and productive. Cultivating a sense of gratitude for those little things can be inspiring. Try to make this a daily routine that you reflect on at the end of the day before closing your eyes.
When we learn how to reflect on the smaller things in life, including those small wins, you might want to celebrate just how far you have actually come and be inspired to see where you can go.