The Small, Unappreciated Things We See Every Day (Updated 2022)

“Kind words spontaneously tendered.” – Jim Collins

Small things are unnoticed

Two years ago I decided to undertake an experiment. On a cold night in early November of 2018, I spent the night walking the city streets of Vancouver’s downtown eastside. An area that is notorious for drug addiction, homelessness, vandalism and violent crime.

I needed a sense of grounding. At the time I didn’t really know why, but it was something I had to do.

As I walked the streets and dark alleyways, I saw dirty needles on the sidewalk, people laying in trash piles, people wrapped in holed tarps over subway air exhausts to keep warm, and witnessed a robbery. It was cold. I followed the example of some people and sat in 24hr coffee shops, buying a coffee every 2hours or so to be able to keep walking and stay warm as winter rolled onto the coast.

I stayed up all night walking, knowing this was temporary.

That night, I saw a lot of what I had expected, but at no point did I feel I was in danger.

But something caught my attention that night that left a lasting impression – the sounds of people laughing together.

The sound of appreciating the small.

Let’s assume that you have clean clothing, a coffee maker, and a device connected to the internet. That alone is more than they have to appreciate, no matter how you feel otherwise in a pandemic.

Appreciation can be lost in convenience. Even trust in the person serving you in the line at the grocery store goes unnoticed once it’s normal.

How should we remind ourselves of the simple things and be thankful?

By reminding ourselves that we are going to die. Looking in the mirror every morning, commandingly saying the words – “you, are going to die.”

It’s cold, but it’s the truth.

Say those words to yourself every morning for a week, and take stock of what you start to feel thankful for.

Your bed, toothbrush, hot water, and phone, gobsmack you.

We must remind ourselves of our mortality when small comforts are owed instead of appreciated.

Kind words spontaneously tendered, even to small comforts, have the power to change the world.

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