It’s the Little Things in Life That Count

In life, it’s the little things that count and make all the difference. Something big, like a major insult or offence, or, conversely a grand positive gesture, would be acknowledged and dealt with openly and immediately. But the little things in life, the unspoken insults, minor slights or the small politenesses and kindnesses may be noticed but not felt to be sufficiently significant or appropriate enough to comment upon.

The bad little things in life

– It’s often the little things that drive us mad, that are seen as irritants, insults or discourtesies. The cup that’s been left on the table or the simple request that’s been forgotten about can seem like huge hurts and signs that we’re being disrespected. And yet they may feel so trivial that we’re nervous about saying anything for fear of sounding petty.

– Big issues would prompt a discussion, they’d be addressed straightaway. So, why do we get so upset by the little, or relatively minor, things? It may be important to check what’s going on if you find yourself becoming increasingly hurt and irritated by little things. Are you stressed, overtired, need a break? Treat your reactions to those ‘little things’ as a sign that you need to take better care of yourself, and that you maybe need to find your voice and address what’s really on your mind.

– Sometimes we may hardly notice an insult or the way someone behaves towards us, or if we do, we may wonder, ‘Is it me, am I having a bad day, or being ultra-sensitive?’.
We may choose to let the incident pass, but it can make us more vigilant during further exchanges, on the alert for any signs or clues as to how they feel about us. This undercurrent can cause a shift in the relationship, a wariness or cautiousness about their treatment of us. Sometimes talking about what’s happened can clear up any misunderstanding that may have prompted the original situation to arise.

– If someone is especially untidy or causes mayhem, we would most likely speak to them about it, maybe even shout and let off steam, but it’s the little things that often bubble away under the surface that cause the most aggravation in a relationship; the plates left in the bedroom, the dirty washing dropped on the floor, the small errand that’s been forgotten about yet again. These are the things that can cause hurt because they reinforce the suspicion that these things don’t matter, are not sufficiently important for them to remember or deal with in a respectful way.

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– When one person feels that they’re the only one who cares, who does the chores or that their requests for help are frequently ignored, they can increasingly feel hurt, insignificant and disregarded, and that their contribution doesn’t count. By trying to see things from their point of view you will invest more in your relationship and start to see how much your appreciation and recognition means to them.

– Not being chosen, picked or selected is often viewed as an important life lesson and a routine part of becoming an adult. As such, many of us learn to become fairly resilient. We may feel aggrieved and need to lick our wounds, but we’re able to do so in private and recover fairly quickly. Others though may experience any form of rejection as a devastating blow, a major catastrophe, with little sense of how they’ll get over it.
How can they continue, show their face or start again?

Treating people with respect and sensitivity can help them get a healthier perspective on setbacks and be better equipped to grow and move forward.

The good little things in life

– Our time throughout the global pandemic has prompted many of us to revise our priorities and discover what really matters in life. The extravagant gestures, parties, celebrations and gifts have, for many people, lost their charm and relevance. We’re far more interested in our relationships, the quality of our daily lives, the small kindnesses and the little things we enjoy that cost nothing.

– The meaningful things in life are often the thoughtful gestures, the phone calls from a neighbour or friend, someone checking in on us to see that we’re okay, maybe asking if we need any shopping done or dropping off some freshly baked cakes.

– The unexpected compliment, gesture of appreciation or a thank you card can really enhance our day. These are things that cost very little in monetary terms but which cause us to smile for quite a while afterwards. And interestingly, our good mood helps improve other people’s days because we’re happy, feeling great and positive about lifting their spirits, as well as our own.

– Gifts have become more personalised, as ordering online and having a delivery driver drop off a gift on the doorstep hasn’t as much appeal as something picked out in person. As the unique smaller gift shops and markets close, so many of us have turned our free time to arts and crafts for inspiration; a handmade card or picture, a beautifully iced cake, a hand-knitted scarf, a scrapbook of significant memories and souvenirs become especially meaningful gifts. Receiving something that someone has made specifically for us makes it extra special.

In many ways, the little things in life count more than the big things. Those minor slights gradually erode our confidence and self-esteem, as witnessing a shrug, half-smile, sarcastic comment undermines how we feel about ourselves. But equally, a positive comment, compliment or kind gesture can bring sunshine to our day.

By Susan Leigh

Susan Leigh, South Manchester counsellor, hypnotherapist, relationship counsellor, writer & media contributor offers help with relationship issues, stress management, assertiveness and confidence. Author of 3 books, ‘Dealing with Stress, Managing its Impact’, & ‘101 Days of Inspiration #tipoftheday’ and ‘Dealing with Death, Coping with the Pain’, all on Amazon. To order a copy or for more information, help and free articles visit

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