Overcoming the big things by celebrating the little things

July 20, 2015

When the object of your daily attention is suffering and hopelessness in the world, the need to celebrate the little things intensifies all the more.

As a nonprofit focused on empowering people, we recognize the people we serve are remarkable in many ways. These individuals, families and communities face living conditions and threats to their well-being every day that the average American cannot fathom, much less survive themselves.

Like anyone else, the people we serve face crises from time to time: the unexpected death of a family member, a flood, a crop failure. The difference is that their crises or “shocks” come while they are already in survival mode. And, there are no safety nets, no government programs, to fall back on. For many people, the desire to pull themselves up is there, but without access to resources of any kind, there is no hope of making this desire a reality. Hopelessness adds to the suffering.

I can feel the weight of this topic just by writing a bit about it. Merely giving thought to it can leave us feeling downtrodden, and we haven’t even begun to move past sympathy to empathy, or to personally experience the weight of the same conditions and threats. I am learning how to deal with it.

How do those of us confronting these issues daily deal with the apparent hopelessness? From the people we serve, who else? One key way is celebrating the little things along the way, no matter the circumstances. Some might call this joy. A prerequisite is definitely gratitude.

We are making an effort to celebrate the little victories occurring among the people we serve: a robust harvest, a child finally able to attend school, a farmer expressing interest in improved techniques. We are celebrating the little things we see in one another as a support team here in the United States, too. In this, we find ourselves having more similarities than differences with people around the world. Everywhere, celebrating little things is like focusing on just the next step, even when a marathon looms ahead.

What weighs you down? As a friend once asked, “What is weighing down that sled you are dragging behind you?” Take note from people who have “nothing” according to the world – celebrate the little things along the way. Don’t forget the joy and gratitude to get you started. I’m finding it to be a very rich experience.