The New Matrix: Small = Big
From the instant we wake up until the second we go to sleep, our day is a collection of moments, events, and segments that, together, comprise the day.
But when we reflect on our lives, we think big and we dream big.
We think about success, wealth, fame; about vast and splendid dreams of magnificence.
We want our lives to matter, we want to make a mark in history and we want to be remembered after we’re gone…
We want to etch ourselves onto the face of the world forever.
We often live for the big moments in our lives – leaving home, getting married, buying our own house, getting a big promotion, buying a bigger and better car, a bigger and more lavish home. Whatever our big dream is – we make that the focus of our lives.
We validate the importance of our lives by counting these big events; the monumental changes, the rare moments.
We wake up in the morning, rush into the day and focused on our big goals, ‘eye on the target’. We hurry through the day with an urgency of goal achieving, never steering our sight away to see the world, to experience the day, and the people around us.
But are our lives really defined by those few big events and infrequent experiences?
What about the everyday of our lives?
I believe that it is the ‘in between’ that truly counts. The small, daily actions that we choose to do, the seemingly insignificant words we choose to speak and the often tiny, forgotten things we create; those are the most important things in our lives. Those are our etchings into the world that remain long after we’re gone.
It is these small things that make the biggest difference.
Life occurs in the simplest of moments; in the mundane, everyday, and ‘insignificant’. This is where our lives happen. These are the moments that make our existence. These are the split seconds that, together, add up to what our lives are all about.
Happiness, true happiness, lies in this small stuff.
It is these things, which are so obvious to us in our lives, that we take for granted. Yet, our life would be quite different if we didn’t have them.
People always talk about how, in crisis moments, everyone steps up and helps. They speak of how wonderful these moments are. I disagree. I think it’s easier to show up and step up when there’s a crisis.
It’s when people show up in my everyday life, in the smallest of ways, that really counts. It’s how I show up in other people’s days that makes the big difference.
It’s the smallest gestures; the small awareness of what is happening around you; to be aware of others; to simply be attentive to the world around us.
It’s the small actions we choose to take in every given moment with the people we know and even the people we don’t know.
It’s noticing someone else. It’s being there for another in whatever is important for them. It’s being aware of how everything we do, say, and even don’t do or say, has an impact on not only ourselves, but also on the people around us.
It’s when we notice each other and when we pay attention to ourselves that we truly become aware of the small things. How do we treat ourselves? How do we treat strangers on the street?
How we look at someone can change an entire experience for both of us. We can glance with judgement and disapproval at the mother who is trying to calm her crying baby at the restaurant, or smile at her, empathetically, understanding, encouraging, and letting her know we know what she’s going through.
As human beings, we all share the same experience. Perhaps in different ways, but we all know, stress, fear, embarrassment, feeling alone, frustrated, ashamed, and judged. We also all know and want to feel relief, connection, encouragement, and understood.
When we give others what we crave for, it opens them up, and they will be able to give it back. It’s the energy that we put into the world that bounces back at us from the world.
We must allow ourselves to bask in these small things in order to make the biggest differences in our lives.
What matters at the end of the day isn’t how much we accomplished towards a big goal at work, or how far we are from financial abundance, or even how we measure up compared to others in status and other external things.
What matters most when I put my head on the pillow and sink into myself for the night, is how I am feeling about myself; how I am feeling about the connections I made that day. It’s about how connected I am to myself and what energy I walked around with and spread out into the world that day. That is what I take with me into my regenerating sleep. That is how I impact the world in the biggest way.
So although lofty goals and big moments are wonderful and needed and are part of the stepping stones in our lives, it is the small things that really count. It is the small things that we create, do and put out in the world during our mundane every day. Those are the big things that make our lives what they are.
It’s about taking one small step towards loving myself more, opening up to another, being there for another and also being there for myself. It’s the small steps that are the most important.
I’ve been practicing this new matrix for a while now. I smile at strangers, start a conversation while waiting in line at the supermarket and thank my USPS guy when he delivers my parcel after a stormy snowy day, throwing in an encouraging warming word. I joke around with the customer service person I call regarding a frustrating issue. I let them know I need their help. I let them know I don’t think it’s their fault. I tell them that they can become my angel for the day. I send someone I know a short text with a picture, a smile or just a thank you note for being in my life.
I love how surprised and delighted people are from those small things. It bounces right back at me! And when I leave, I can hear the lightness in the voices of the people behind me. I hear the relief in the customer service person who, in a shift filled with angry people, had one nice experience that will help brighten their day.
It is the smallest things that often bring the biggest amount of joy into my soul and into the souls of everyone around me.
We have the power, an enormous power – we can it a friendly world out there, or a judgmental, closed, shielded, isolated negative experience, or we can open up with acceptance, empathy, kindness and awareness.
What we choose to put in every little moment of our day, how we lead our day – That is how the world will remember us.
Let’s practice this new matrix and shake the word with gentle kindness and compassion.
While you’re heading with zest and rushing towards all those lofty big goals in your life – don’t forget the particles, the little things, the vast, complexed, precious components of that together create each and every day, and together, add up to what will one day be the story, and what you have etched on the world with your life
10 New Matrix things you can start doing today to change your world
1. Smile at a stranger on the street / subway / bus / store, just a short ‘we’re all in this together’ smile.
2. Send someone a text message / e-mail to let them know you care about them, tell them how much you appreciate them.
3. Say something nice to a stranger. Start a friendly exchange, make a stranger smile…
4. Ask someone in your life about what they enjoy, what their challenges are – pay attention to them, get curious. Make it all about them. Don’t try to fix anything for them. Just be there for them.
5. Instead of texting a friend – call them. Have a real conversation.
6. That person that you take for granted in your life – let them know you’re not taking them for granted!
7. Look into the eyes of the person you are talking to.
8. Tell someone at work, a friend, your spouse, or a family member about a specific a character trait that you like about them, let them know what makes that trait special to you, how it makes you feel
9. Before going to sleep, think back on your day and remember the nice things you experienced. Did you laugh today? Did you make someone smile?
10. When was the last time you wrote someone a letter, a real handwritten letter, sent by mail… Yup, that envelope and stamp thing. What a wonderful surprise to find in the mailbox instead of a bill.
11. Bonus – Give yourself a compliment – you deserve it!