The Power of the Little Details in Our Lives
Monday March 25, 2019

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“It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.” —John Wooden, the winningest NCAA basketball coach in UCLA history and an English teacher

Much like a powerful, all consuming wave consisting of a multiude of drops of water that gradually strengths its momentum, velocity and power, so too can the small details in our lives have a great impact.

It happened this past month – a realization of a seeminly small change that has now cultivated a great positive difference in my life.

Last year, in episode #197 of the podcast (and in #9 of episode #187), I shared that I had begun incorporating the morning ritual of listening to classical music. Up until that point I had recognized that my choice to listen to news from morning until evening and watch somewhat regularly the daily news, was not elevating the quality of my life. Wanting to remain informed, and continuing to read my selected newspapers throughout the week, I made a significant change to my morning and school schedules regarding what information I absorbed directly or indirectly.

As you might have guessed, it was far less news and much more classical music. Each morning I now turn on my KDFC app which is a classical music station .As my day unfolds, I am playing either my TSLL Classical Music playlists in the background while at school during my prep period or listening to more WRTI. As each day wraps up, and especially on Fridays, I tune in to KUSC – southern California’s station for classical music (on Fridays between 3-7pm Pacific time, Rich Capparela’s KUSC at the Beach is one of my favorite programs, as it gently eases me into the weekend), and on Sunday, with Oregon’s classical music station KWAX, their Sunday Baroque is a favorite as well.

Gradually, the above daily and weekend routines all came together, and within 12 months, I knew which shows I enjoyed, which hosts would be on when as I find myself learning a tremendous amount about the history and musician as well and thus enjoying the commentary as much as the music itself.

As this daily routine became habituated, I found my mornings beginning with more smiles and less subtle angst. My mood lifted and my days filled with more appreciation and less dread or worry. Now this may sound too extreme – how could simply listening to classical music and watching or listening to less news make such a difference? But the truth is, my mind is no longer consumed with more of what I cannot control.

And while episode #187 dives deep into staying abreast of the news, but not consumed by it, I wanted to share this aha moment to bring attention to the power of the small changes we make in our daily lives. In my case, more peace, joy and tranquility.

As John Wooden states, little things do indeed make big things happen because it is the strength of the many repeated small things that habituate in our minds a new approach, a new practice, a new focus, a new use of our energy, that with time, cultivates a change that we may not recognize for some time because it is gradual.

How to begin incorporating the little details that will make a big and powerful change:

  1. Be conscious in what you want to change and why
  2. Focus less on the outcome, once you know your new habit is the right path to achieving it, and instead, focus more on the daily practice.

“Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together.” —Vincent Van Gogh

Van Gogh is right, it is the choices we make consciously and done repeatedly that will eventually lead to the great outcomes we desire. We don’t always know exacly how they will materialize or precisely in what form they will reveal themselves, but so long as it is a conscious choice, we can rest easy and simply focus on the day to day.

“Habit is habit, and not to be flung out of the window by any man, but coaxed downstairs a step at a time.” —Mark Twain

Seemingly simple changes — sleep schedule, approach to eating, how we speak to ourselves, how we engage with others, the thoughts we let ourselves entertain, exercise regimen, the books we read, what we purchase — in which ever area of your life you would like to see lasting change, consider what simple adjustment you can make today, and simply do that seemingly small change each day. After a while you won’t miss what you use to do, after a while you will miss the new change if you forget it one day and in time, you will reflect and see you have traveled quite far indeed.


~episode #243, 12 Ways to Make Mornings Magical, Mindful and the Foundation of a Great Day and Great Success

~episode #237: 7 Life Lessons from The Tao of Pooh

~episode #226, Understand This Tricky Paradox of Control in Order to Improve Your Life | The Simply Luxurious Life

10 thoughts on “The Power of the Little Details in Our Lives

  1. Good morning from a sunny UK Shannon. Can I say a huge thank you for the quotes and references to other authors and articles within your posts and your books. I find these most interesting and useful for further reading and have led me to discover areas of interest that I never would have otherwise. Have a beautiful day, Sue.

  2. I have been doing something very similar for a while now: instead of listening to the news on TV or radio, I read the paper. I can self-edit what I read. (“No, Mimi, this will only depress you for no reason. I know! Let’s read the comics!”) Unfortunately, my husband is a news junkie, but at least he listens to NPR, which is a good deal less hysterical than the other media outlets, if no less depressing.

    I also have recently been putting on a classical music station on my internet radio, and for a rather peculiar reason: It calms and entertains my parrots. They whistle along, trill, and generally enjoy it. I also noticed that I, too, am calmer when I listen, although I don’t whistle or trill.

    1. Mimi,
      Thank you very much for sharing your navigation of discovering what works best for you. Yes, I agree, when we read the newspaper, we have more control over what we choose to feed our mind with. And NPR is as well a news source I trust when I do what to hear updates. I love that your parrot enjoys classical music! Thank you again for your comment. 🙂

  3. So true! I’m going through a similar process myself. A few years ago, I began to notice the way our national news inflames information, subtly, through using unnecessary adjectives. To avoid this, I switched to a local news station – these announcers use everyday language and a straightforward delivery. But still, news is news, and can be depressing or cause anxiety.

    I still keep up on current events, but have recently began listening to inspiring or informative podcasts during my workout and throughout the day. What a refreshing change! Thanks for encouraging us always to be uplifted and to seek out a higher way of simple living, Shannon. Much appreciated.

    1. Deanne, Thank you for sharing what you have discovered and learned. Yes, news is news, but we certainly can tailor how we receive the facts. And thank you for bringing to readers’ attention that deliver, tone and diction play a crucial role in the energy that is conveyed about any given news story. Have a wonderful week!

  4. My husband and I totally stopped watching television news a few years ago. We stay informed in other ways. It is life changing and actually pretty easy to do. By that I mean, it doesn’t take take too many days to feel the difference in your life. So much of tv news promotes fear and anger. It is epidemic

  5. Shannon,
    I began listening to classical music many years ago due to job stress and migraine issues. Now that I am retired I keep numerous CDs on repeat all day on my Bose and get so much more enjoyment and calm out of my day. The combination of never turning on the TV during the day and having my music lightly playing in the background has made a huge difference in my mental and physical well being. A daily walking routine has also helped. Loved your post, as always!!

    1. Cheryl, Thank you for sharing how you came to find this practice and the positive change you have seen in your life. As I type, I am listening to a wonderful classical melody and yes, so much tranquility to be found!

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