Remember that old book, “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff?” Well sometimes we do need to sweat the small stuff.  Don’t get me wrong, I wholeheartedly agree that we have to let go of things we can’t control and not get upset about petty things.  But there are some times when our small actions can add up to have a major impact in our lives.  

When can the small stuff be bad for us?  When we allow ourselves to make tiny little compromises that can lead to majorly bad consequences.   We make many of these small decisions every day, and most of the time we don’t even notice.  Because nothing happens – at least right away.  But the consequences of our bad decisions can pile up and cause a lot of regret later on. 

For instance, at a party we may say “one cookie won’t hurt.”  (And it usually won’t). But then we see the potato chips, and think “I’ll just have a couple.”  Hey, it’s a party after all.  The party goes on, and we see little finger sandwiches.  Well, 4 little triangles only equal one sandwich, and that’s without the crust, so that’s not bad.  Then there is the veggie tray, and veggies have practically no calories at all, so it’s OK to put a dollop of ranch dressing on them.  And since we just had healthy veggies, then it’s only right that we should be able to partake in a piece of cake. 

These were all small nibbles, but they added up to a major pigout.  I’m not saying not to have fun at parties. I’m just saying sometimes we make a bunch of tiny decisions that can lead to a major headache (or tummy ache). 

I remember once when I was a teenager, I lied to my parents about where I was going. Then on top of that I realized I was going to be late coming home, so I called them and had to tell another lie about why I was late.  When I was finally on my way home, I saw my dad walking, coming to meet me.  Uh oh.  He said I know you weren’t where you said you were.  I was caught.  He then told me to really think about what I had done.  I had started with one lie, and that was bad.  But then I had to tell another lie to keep up with my first lie.  This is why lying rarely works in the long run.  We usually can’t stop with one.

Equally, focusing on the small stuff can be good for us too.  For instance, I’m very penny-conscious.  I’m not a miser, I have fun, I go shopping, and I give freely and enthusiastically.  But I know where all of my money goes and I cut corners in a lot of small ways.  I pretty much know when to spend and when not to spend.  I took small steps to pay down all of my debt, all that is remaining is my mortgage.  I’m not wealthy, but I do feel free financially, free enough that I was able to take a lower paying job that I would enjoy more.  I can say that being in control of my finances has given me a lot of piece. I didn’t do it all at once, it took a series of small steps, and it worked.  So, even if a goal seems too big to conquer, start anyway, with small steps.  You’ll reach  your goal sooner than you think.  

Here are some steps we can take that are small, but can be life-changing:

  1. Don’t have just one.  If you’ve quit smoking or drinking, you know you can’t have just one.  You will become addicted again, you will never be able to control your habit.  Don’t try.  
  2. Always tell the truth. That way you won’t have to pile on the lies.  Plus you will become known as a person who can be trusted.
  3. Pennies do count.  Avoid paying late fees – pay your bills on time.  Don’t go to Starbucks for a fancy coffee every day.  Every day do something proactive towards saving money.  If you have debt, pay a few dollars extra per month until they are paid off.  Being free from debt really is freedom.
  4.  Be kind to everyone.  Be kind to your cashier, to your fast food server, to your coworkers – no matter how people treat you, be nice to them.  You will gain peace.  
  5. Let it go!  If you can’t control it, find peace with it.  If you can change it, change it.  If you can change it but you don’t want to, live with it.  .  
  6. Read your bible and pray!  God speaks to us through His Word and when we seek Him out. He knows what’s best for us.  He has a plan for our lives, but we won’t know what that is unless we ask Him.  
  7. Move!  We are too sedentary.  Get up from your desk every hour and take a short walk. Go to the park and enjoy the outdoors.  You get a bonus – not only is your body moving, but your mind is moving.  You can take the time to think, pray, daydream, or make plans.  
  8. Turn off the TV!  Most of us watch too much.  Start by cutting just 1 hour per day.  You will be surprised at how creative your mind will be if you use it for reading, writing or doing something creative without the distraction of your television set.  50 years ago people sat in their yards and talked to their neighbors, they had creative hobbies, they picked up the phone and called someone.  We don’t do those things when we are staring at the TV.  
  9. Try to understand other people.  I read somewhere that if you really know your enemy, you will understand why he/she does what they do, and you will be better able to love them in return.  
  10. Try to learn something new every day.  And not from Facebook.  Read or explore.  Learn a craft.  Talk to someone who has wisdom.  It keeps us sharp and knowledge helps us to live better.  
  11. Do one thing at a time. Having the TV on while reading means you’re not really focusing on anything.
  12. Enjoy silence.  There is so little of it these days.  Turn off all of the noise (TV, radio) and just listen.  Seek it out.  In these quiet times, God will speak to us.

Can you think of more small steps you can take to improve your life?

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