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Small Things

  • I long to accomplish a great and noble task; but it is my chief duty and joy to accomplish humble tasks as though they were great and noble. ... the world is moved along, not only by the mighty shoves of its heroes, but also by the aggregate of the tiny pushes of each honest worker ...

  • One can get just as much exultation in losing oneself in a little thing as in a big thing. It is nice to think how one can be recklessly lost in a daisy!

  • A life of value is not a series of great things well done; it is a series of small things consciously done.

  • I can browse indefinitely in a stationer's shop, indeed there is hardly anything in a good stationer's which I do not like and want.

  • One of the secrets of a happy life is continuous small treats ...

  • ... even the 'worst blizzard of the century' accumulates one flake at a time.

  • To be really great in little things, to be truly noble and heroic in the insipid details of every-day life, is a virtue so rare as to be worthy of canonization.

  • Creating daily rituals — making daily tasks into times of enrichment through planning and special personal details — is a way to live a richer, more satisfying life. ... I've become convinced that only by paying careful attention to the simple details of daily tasks and to our immediate surroundings can we live vitally and beautifully all the days of our lives.

  • It was not the matter of the work, but the mind that went into it, that counted — and the man who was not content to do small things well would leave great things undone.

  • ... all the daily and the lovely things, / ... / These little things, these nimble shy delights, / With the quick magic of significance / I'll not despise to startle into being.

  • Since trifles make the sum of human things, / And half our mis'ry from our foibles springs.

    • Hannah More,
    • "Sensibility: An Epistle to the Honorable Mrs. Boscawen," Sacred Dramas ()
  • Great deeds may be performed by a Small means.

    • Abigail Adams,
    • letter (1813), in John P. Kaminski, The Quotable Abigail Adams ()
  • ... the little things in life often make more trouble than the big things.

  • There are no little things. 'Little things,' so called, are the hinges of the universe.

  • Neglecting small things because one wishes to do great things is the excuse of the faint-hearted.

  • It is the loose ends with which men hang themselves.

  • I am doing something I learned early to do, I am / paying attention to small beauties, / whatever I have — as if it were our duty / to find things to love, to bind ourselves to this world.

  • That shall be my life, to scatter flowers — to miss no single opportunity of making some small sacrifice, here by a smiling look, there by a kindly word, always doing the tiniest things right, and doing it for love.

  • ... it is the trifles that make up the sum of existence, and every act of ours, however slight, has an influence, direct or indirect, over all our life. We make ourselves by our deeds.

  • As anyone who has ever fallen foul of an airport, a conventional hospital or a bad restaurant knows, misery is made up of little things ...

  • The ocean is made of drops.

  • We can do no great things — only small things with great love.

    • Mother Teresa,
    • in Kathryn Spink, ed., In the Silence of the Heart ()
  • Don't look for big things, just do small things with great love ... The smaller the thing, the greater must be our love.

    • Mother Teresa,
    • in Brian Kolodiejchuk, ed., Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light ()
  • ... I wait for a chance to confer a great favor, and let the small ones slip; but they tell best in the end, I fancy.

  • Quite a small spoke is enough to stop a wheel — even a mighty big wheel — if it's going too fast.

  • Life takes its complexion from inferior things. It is little attentions and assiduities that sweeten the bitter draught and smooth the rugged road.

    • Abigail Adams,
    • 1782, in Frank Shuffelton, ed., The Letters of John and Abigail Adams ()
  • ... it is the sum of small things successfully done that lifts a life out of bondage to the humdrum.

  • It isn't the great big pleasures that count the most; it's making a great deal out of the little ones ...

  • The mighty are brought low by many a thing / Too small to name. Beneath the daisy's disk / Lies hid the pebble for the fatal sling.

  • In this life you can take poverty, you can take failure, you can take the big things; it's the little griefs that destroy you inside.

  • It's the everyday things that give life its stability and its framework.

  • ... small things amuse small minds ...

  • The extent to which we take everyday objects for granted is the precise extent to which they govern and inform our lives.

  • Great events make me quiet and calm; it is only trifles that irritate my nerves.

  • When the ship is going down we trouble ourselves little enough about the style of the cabin furniture.

  • Little deeds of kindness, little words of love, / Help to make earth happy like the Heaven above.

    • Julia A. Fletcher,
    • "Little Things" (1845), in Hazel Felleman, ed., The Best Loved Poems of the American People ()
  • Little drops of water, / Little grains of sand, / Make the mighty ocean / And the pleasant land. / Thus the little minutes, / Humble though they be, / Make the mighty ages / Of eternity.

    • Julia A. Fletcher,
    • "Little Things" (1845), in Hazel Felleman, ed., The Best Loved Poems of the American People ()
  • ... this was one of the penalties of being a 'good' wife and mother. Her life was a mass of details, endless and entangled, all together, all unsorted: trivial things and important things wound into and against one another, all warring for her attention. Changing the goldfish water wasn't vital, but it couldn't wait; teaching the children their Bible was vital, but it could wait. Listening to them, growing with them, that was vital; but the bills had to be paid now, the dinner was burning right now ...

  • It is so often the odd, the unexpected, the apparently trifling, that stamps itself upon the memory for ever, while much more memorable things pass away like a breath of wind.

  • Just as, in travel, one may miss seeing the sunset because one cannot find the ticket-office or is afraid of missing the train, so in even the closest human relationships a vast amount of time and of affection is drained away in minor misunderstandings, missed opportunities, and failures in consideration or understanding.

  • Character demonstrates itself in trifles.

  • We must not, in trying to think about how we can make a big difference, ignore the small daily differences we can make which, over time, add up to big differences that we often cannot foresee.

  • Jar one chord, the harp is silent; move one stone, the arch is shattered; / ... / One dark cloud can hide the sunlight; loose one string, the pearls are scattered; / Think one thought, a soul may perish; say one word, a heart may break!

  • When a small thing upset someone my grandmother used to say, 'Nonsense! That would never be noticed from a trotting horse.'

    • Emily Kimbrough,
    • "On Seeing Clearly," in William Nichols, ed., Words to Live By ()
  • I hope you find, as I did, that happiness comes from noticing and enjoying the little things in life.

  • Petty ills try the temper worse than great ones.

  • It was true, she thought, that the big things awe us but the little things touch us.

  • The things of every day are all so sweet — / ... / Oh, life — the whole of life — is far too fleet. / The things of every day are all so sweet. / The common things of life are all so dear — / ... Is Heaven not after all the Now and Here? / The common things of life are all so dear.

    • Alice E. Allen,
    • "Life's Common Things," in The Homiletic Review ()
  • What trifles colour life and make it dark as night.

  • The small things of life were often so much bigger than the great things . . . the trivial pleasure like cooking, one's home, little poems especially sad ones, solitary walks, funny things seen and overheard.