FOCUS: Think Small

DISCIPLINES: Mental Models, Personal Mastery, Systems Thinking

Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.
—Mother Teresa

Maybe you’ve received the “Thankfulness Challenge.” Some folks on Facebook and Twitter are getting into the spirit of the season by noticing and posting the tiniest things they’re thankful for. I like the idea, because, as my friend Sharon Lippincott says,

“Recording gratitude strengthens the habit of thinking that way. It can even improve your health! Sharing gratitude with others, especially in tiny, incredibly little bites, infects others with a grateful spirit. The more of us doing that, the sooner the whole world will be wrapped in Gratitude, and that has to be a powerful thing.” Visit Sharon's Blog: Heart and Craft of Life Writing.

Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval wrote The Power of Small: Why Little Things Make a Difference. In it they tell the story Simone, a young woman so tired of waiting for Jake, her long-time boyfriend to propose that she decided she had to take a stand. She thought, “Tonight we’ll go to dinner and I’ll raise the issue. If he isn’t interested in marriage, I’ll break up with him.” Walking to the restaurant on that chilly evening, they passed a shivering, unkempt homeless man. “I’ll be right back,” she told Jake. She rushed into a thrift shop across the street and came out with a $10 coat, stopped quickly at the deli for a cup of hot soup and a sandwich, handed them to the homeless man saying simply, “Here this is for you.” They walked on to the restaurant. Once they’d ordered their meals, Simone said, “Jake, there’s something I need to tell you.” He said, “Okay, fine, but first I have something to tell you. I don’t have a ring but will you marry me?” “Why now?” she managed to stammer. He answered, “When I saw you stop and give that homeless man a coat and a warm meal, I thought, how could I not spend the rest of my life with someone this kind?”

I took the Thankfulness Challenge. Here’s the list of small things I’m thankful for this morning:

  1. my pillow
  2. the stuffed octopus my cat Bonkers takes off the shelf every night and leaves in secret places for me to find and put back on the shelf
  3. my 1-year old neighbor Deja’s dazzling smile
  4. a perfectly ripe kiwi fruit I had for breakfast

At least three good things can come from noticing and sharing these small gratitudes:

  • Our hearts open
  • Small things may lead to big
  • It’s contagious and may spread gratitude


  1. What very small things are you grateful for? Make a list

  2. How can you continue to notice this small gratitude daily?

  3. With whom can you share your small thankfulnesses? (family, friends, neighbors, a clerk at the store, Facebook, Twitter?)


  • Please join me for a 45-minute telegathering to explore more deeply the implications of being grateful for small things. Call Wednesday, December 16 at noon Eastern (11:00 a.m. Central, 10:00 a.m. MT, 9:00 a.m. Pacific) 1-218-862-1300 PIN 276583. No need to register…just call at that time!

Read an excerpt from Liberating Greatness, the Whole Brain Guide to an Extraordinary Life, the book Hal and I wrote, at

Sharon Eakes | 720 Maple Lane | Sewickley, PA 15143

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720 Maple Lane, Sewickley, PA 15143
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