I love a good, thought provoking quote. I look for quotes everywhere, and have found many. (The Word document that I keep them all in is 26 pages, and always getting longer.)
I find most on a couple of Instagram pages I follow dedicated to Stoics, and thinkers in general; but I’ve found good quotes in songs, movies and tv, and even come up with a few that I thought were pretty decent and wise on my own. I have quotes from Marcus Aurelius, Muhammad Ali, and the Ranger Marcus from Babylon 5. (I also have many quotes from people whose names don’t start with “M”.)
This quote I found recently hit me hard enough that, for the first time in months, I thought I would write something down.
Most people tend to think big when it comes to life. We make huge, grandiose plans that we hope will affect the world. We tend to think of things on the scale of curing a disease, or solving world hunger, or becoming fantastically wealthy. We could probably name several, perhaps even many people that have had the opportunity to affect the world and succeeded, compared to their respective populations though, they are inconceivably rare. It takes a combination of talent, opportunity, luck, bravery, and dedication that makes those kind of events a “once in a generation” thing. The problem with thinking on that scale comes at our end of life: if we haven’t caused a world altering event, we may come to think of our lives as a failure.
But what if we thought smaller?
What if we found meaning in little events, instead of large ones? The “thank yous”, and the “smiles in passing”, and saying the compliments that pop in to our heads, but often never get said.
It seems that the majority of us have somehow convinced ourselves that our impact on the world needs to be large for our lives to have meaning. We are unnecessarily complicating our lives with that thought process; and missing countless, small opportunities to think small, make the world a better place, and find meaning in the little things, every day.
In our lives we don’t find meaning, we assign meaning.