Loving the little things but why don’t we celebrate them more?


Here on the blog we often talk about the virtue of small steps. Tracy talks write a bit about doing less. Me, I’m more a shoot for the moon kind of person but I’m that way because it leads to me doing more even if I don’t achieve the big goal. The thing is, for me, I don’t feel bad for aiming high and settling with a lesser achievement.

I think we ought to celebrate our small achievements. And as Tracy wrote recently it’s not all about getting better all the time.

We’re in a society that seems only to care about BIG CHANGES. But the incremental gains after the first chuck of achievement are often small. Most of the good comes from the initial small thing. And the small thing may be more sustainable.

So maybe we ought to celebrate the small stuff.

Here’s two examples:

Running: We’ve written before in praise of small distances. I loved my one mile a day running streak. And the New York Times touts the health benefits of running 10 minutes a day.

Weight loss: Again, we’ve written in praise of moderate weight loss. Everyone talks about the health benefits of weight loss but we tend to think of weight loss in terms of big big transformations. You know, biggest loser caliber weight loss. But almost all the health benefits of weight loss come with small losses, say of five per cent of your body weight.

Here at the Feminist Approaches to Bioethics Congress Kate Hunt opened with a plenary address on gender and health care. As a success story she looked at a fitness and health group for men associated with local football clubs. She counted this program as a success because many of the men, who weighed on average 250 lbs, lost and kept off about five to ten lbs. The researchers who designed the program count that as success in terms of health impact even if it’s not biggest loser style success.

Losing and keeping off 5-10 lbs isn’t anywhere near as hard as losing 50 lbs and yet you get many of the health benefits. Ditto running a mile versus running a marathon.

Why then don’t we care about small achievements? How might we change our thinking about this? 


One thought on “Loving the little things but why don’t we celebrate them more?

  1. If you personally know anyone or yourself who had an injury serious enough that one needed wheelchair use, someone else to hang on..just to walk around the block, you would change your own mindset about super “big” physical achievements.

    I was that person over 18 months ago when I had a concussion. The first wk., I couldn’t walk around the block without someone beside me. I needed wheelchair assistance to get onto the plane …5 days after my accident. I couldn’t look at a computer screen and be tired. (Physicians forbid concussion patients to use computer screens for lst few wks.)

    It is incredibly humbling to learn that I could finally move around in my kitchen without getting dizzy…3 months later.

    So for me to ride 20 km. trips several times per wk. combined with 45 km. bike trip on a weekend day…is tremendous reminder to myself.

    (I was on disability leave from work for nearly 6 months.)

    Should I flagellate myself for not yet cycling a 100 km. trip in 1 day this yr.? I don’t care whether or not I do it. Being alive and healthy is so much more than a 100 km. bike ride.

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