A little thought goes a long way, and whether we admit it or not, having someone either think of or act for us, even in the smallest manner, makes us happy. But if the smallest things make us happy, why do so many people place importance on areas of life that aren’t conducive to that ideology?
You may have heard someone say, “it’s the littlest things in life that make us happiest.” Large in part, it’s true. Before we dive into why, how do we have a mindset of believing this philosophy to be accurate in the first place? It starts with your interpretation of success and also derives from experience. Many people have found success in their lifetime. You know, in the traditional sense. Multiple houses with fancy paintings on every wall, luxury cars with panoramic roofs, more than enough money accumulated to send their children, let alone five others, off to college and have an overall lavish lifestyle. Yet, many of these people are unhappy. Why? You may ask.
After all, plenty of what society considers to be successful is mentioned above. But as many of the highest earners in the world have learned, materialism, or money for that matter, can’t make you happy. From a psychological perspective, it’s fascinating. Sure, not having to worry about a single bill ever being missed again comes with a level of security we all desire. However, if every bill is accounted for, but you feel unfulfilled every day, what’s the point?
Experience shows us all, even the most wealthy, that the tiniest of gestures and acts of kindness resonate with and are more memorable for the human race than anything else. How come? To summarize, thoughts matter to people. It could be a vase of flowers for a significant other, just because it’s Tuesday or a compliment on a new piece of clothing. There could be a reason behind the thought or no reason at all. It doesn’t have to be materialistic, either. It could be a backrub for your partner after they’ve had a long way. We all love feeling cared for and appreciated, and although we, of course, typically remember the action for a short period. Intriguingly enough, it’s the thought that stays with us time and time again.
Why is it the thought that matters most? It’s because humans love that out of everything one single person could be thinking of at any given moment, including relationships, kids, friends, parents, sports, books, television shows, movies, work, school, etc., they thought of them. Taking it a step further, people love even more when a person on the other side of an existing relationship acts on that thought, ensuring it comes to fruition by doing something tangible. Why? Because it makes them feel special. Thinking of someone makes them feel special, but acting on those thoughts by going out of your way for someone makes them feel valued. Especially in today’s climate, when there are more distractions and shorter attention spans than ever before, with the advent of social networks.
However, going “out of your way” to make someone feel cherished doesn’t always equate to meaning. As mentioned, random acts of kindness don’t have to be enormous. Buying your parents their dream home is a fantasy most people will never get to see. But it doesn’t mean you can’t make them feel just as respected and treasured through little things. Because at the end of the day, sure, they’d be forever thankful for your purchase if it happened. But when was the last time you stopped by to talk over tea and see how they were doing? Have you recently checked in with them to evaluate their overall health? Have you been so busy working to provide a luxurious home that you’ve forgotten what means most in the long run?
Because what matters in this life is having lunch at a park with your Mom or riding a tandem bike with your Dad on a breezy Saturday afternoon, along with every other “little thing” you can do to water the foundation of any relationship so that it flourishes. Growing up, I remember my parents always telling me it’s the thought that matters most. It’s not how much you spend, the time that went into it, or the face you anticipate seeing after you’ve surprised someone. Sure, all of those factors come together to make your thoughtful act more riveting. But the true essence of the littlest things making us the happiest is choosing to do something for someone when you don’t have to.