This Is What ACTUALLY Matters (And It’s Probably Not What You Think)
“My shoes aren’t here,” I said, laughing. I didn’t really believe it, but I couldn’t find them anywhere.
I was at my friend’s apartment, ready to leave.
Inconveniently, my shoes had mysteriously disappeared from the shoe rack.
It is common in many countries in Asia to remove one’s shoes before entering a building. A few hours earlier I had politely complied with the custom, thinking nothing of it.
However, when it was time to leave, my shoes were nowhere to be found.
“Wait, really??” My friend asked, astonished. “They’ve got to be here somewhere.”
We went back up to the roof, where we had been hanging out, but couldn’t find them anywhere. However, we did discover an abandoned pair of flip flops.
“You should take them,” my friend suggested. “It’s not stealing; it’s trading.”
I didn’t want to take someone else’s shoes, but I also didn’t want to walk around barefoot for the rest of the night. I tried them on and they fit perfectly. I took it as a sign, and we walked over to our next destination: a rooftop bar.
Before we could enter the elevator, the bouncer stopped us.
“No flip flops,” she said, pointing to my feet.
“But her shoes were just stolen!!” My friends cried out. We laughed at the irony of the situation.
The woman didn’t care (or didn’t understand), so we quickly devised a plan. My friends would go up to the bar, and one would discreetly take off her shoes. Then, a different friend would carry them down to me, and I would wear them into the bar.
Satisfied with this plan, I took a seat in the lobby and watched my friends disappear behind closed elevator doors.
A few moments later, a stranger appeared with a beautiful pair high heels wrapped in plastic. He held them out to me.
“What??” I asked, utterly flummoxed.
I didn’t understand who this man was, where the shoes came from, or why he was offering them to me.
He pointed to me feet and pushed the shoes into my hands. He gestured to my feet.
“Thank you,” I exclaimed, moved by his kindness.
I felt like Cinderella, except my fairy godmother was a man and he didn’t speak any English. Minor details.
I raced up to the bar to meet up with my friends, and we all lived happily ever after.
The evening reminded me of a Kurt Vonnegut quote that I love:
“Enjoy the little things in life because one day you`ll look back and realize they were the big things.”
At first glance, it would appear the “big” event of the evening was going out to the bar. But in reality, the things I actually appreciated were the smaller things. The moments giggling about the shoe thief. The theories about where my shoes went. The looks on my friends’ faces when I surprised them at the bar.
To me, this quote is not saying that I’ll be on my deathbed reminiscing about the kindness of a stranger who let me borrow his (??) shoes for a few hours. Instead, it means that our entire life isn’t one big thing – it’s the accumulation of a million little things.
And we should learn to appreciate those million little things. When your favorite song comes on shuffle. When you hit all the green lights. When the smell of your shampoo lingers in your hair.
Every second that we are alive is a gift, and it should be celebrated as one.
If you can find happiness in the “little” moments, then you can always find happiness.
And the truth is, you can find happiness in moments like that. You can enjoy any situation. Every “big” situation is filled with infinite “little” things to appreciate.
In every moment, you can choose to focus your attention on the million little joyful things.
I could have been angry when my shoes got stolen. I could have been annoyed that the bouncer didn’t let me into the bar. I could have been hurt when my friends left me alone in the lobby.
But that wouldn’t have made my shoes appear, changed the bouncer’s mind or made me feel better. In fact, it would have only made the situation worse, because in addition to those small setbacks, I would have also felt badly.
Instead, I chose to laugh at them. I chose to celebrate them. Because life is too short to take things seriously.
It didn’t matter that my sandals were stolen. It didn’t matter that I initially got turned away from the bar.
What mattered was spending time with people I love. Everything else is unimportant.
Negative things are bound to happen, but you can always find the “little” things to appreciate.
Instead of complaining, switch your perspective. Instead of looking for the worst in every situation, look for the little things that you can enjoy. Instead of thinking about what you have to do, think about what you get to do.
“I have to go to work,” turns into “I get to earn money for myself.”
“I have to go to the gym,” turns into “I get to move my body in a way that will benefit my health.”
“I have to wait for my friends alone while they go to the bar,” turns into “I get to go to the bar later because they are nice enough to execute a plan to sneak me in.”
Life is full of big events that we think are important. That big night out. That extravagant vacation. That new job.
Those things are important. But they are not the only things that deserve our attention.
We should appreciate and celebrate the little things too. Celebrate the small stuff. Enjoy the walk to the mailbox. Enjoy the breath of fresh air. Enjoy the relief of sitting down after a long day.
Because in the end, it’s those little things that make up our life. It’s those little things that will make us happy.