Acknowledging the Small Things That Make Life Better

This is Hubris: 21 March 2021 edition. In this issue I want to talk about acknowledging the small things that make life better.

This is part three in this series on conducting a values assessment. Part 1 was about foundational values, the things that are in theory universal to all of us. Part 2  was about personal values, and using them as daily touchstones. That brings us to to what Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus call minor values, the little things that make life better.

I am once again guiding myself off of their examples. I’m not sure that I’d really qualify these as values in the traditional sense. They’re more like things that I value, rather than core beliefs of guiding principles. Maybe when you dig down this deep, and start looking at details, it starts to become about essential items and specific actions. At least those things are on the third tier down, and not at the very top.

Minor Values

As stated above, small things that make life better are categorized as minor values. You’re not going to base major decisions on these things, and your life won’t fall apart without them. Somehow, though, they make things a little easier and bring a little bit of joy into your life. After brainstorming and comparing my list to The Minimalists’ example, this is what I landed on for myself:

  • Cleanliness: Even if my things are a little raggedy, as long as everything is clean I feel respectable. I think this comes down to valuing utility over appearance, and being frugal to a point that’s almost extreme.
  • Coffee: This is my drug of choice, literally and figuratively. It helps me to manage my cognitive function disorder, and keeps my going when I’m having sleep issues. Coffee is more than that, though. It’s a comforting ritual. It’s an excuse to take a break, so I can process and gather my thoughts. I would classify it a meditation-adjacent.
  • Comfort: I would rather have clothes that fit well than a closet full of fashion. Good bedding and fluffy towels are probably my favorite possessions. I dislike clutter because I am a lumbering beast that needs room to move, so I feel more at ease in open spaces.
  • Food: If I put any stock into “love languages”, this would be mine. Being able to feed myself, rather than relying on others to prepare my food, makes me feel in control of my life. Having a well-stocked pantry makes me feel secure. Cooking for other people is how I show them I care about them. I would rather have quality than quantity, and that’s not only a more delicious experience, it tends to be healthier.
  • Reading: There are things that happen to your brain when you read regularly. I fear we’re losing them as society shifts to primarily audio/visual content. Unfortunately people love to argue with me about this, but this list isn’t about them. It’s about what brings joy into my life. This connects to the foundational value of Growth, and the structural value of Wisdom.
  • Tidiness: When I need something, I want to be able to find it and get to it easily. Moving around, I don’t want to trip over things or knock things over. This connects not only to cleanliness, but comfort. Clutter is also visual noise, which triggers my cognitive function issues. Al of these things connect to why I’m a minimalist.

Acknowledging the Small Things That Make Life Better

At the start of this values assessment, I was looking for meaning. I didn’t feel that what I do for a living makes any great contribution to the world. When I get into my personal values, I had an epiphany as to how I could use my work to express those values. It’s about how I approach work, and the way I strive to embody those values.

What I take away from this week is that it’s okay to simply abide. There doesn’t always have to be a grand crusade to promote one’s core beliefs and share one’s guiding principles. I extract a great deal of contentedness, if not joy, from simply cleaning the apartment and then sitting down with a cup of coffee. Know who you are, and don’t overthink it.

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