It’s the Little Things That Count
By Christa Thornburg



In our quiet moments, have we ever asked ourselves, “Is there something of significance I am to accomplish with my life?”

This seems to be a common thought; it was gleaned from conversations over the years with people who are aspiring to put more service into their lives. It would seem to arise out of a deep urge to make our lives meaningful and purposeful.

Helen Keller said, “I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble.” For most of us it is the opportunity to do small things in great ways, rather than to accomplish one great purpose, that characterizes our lives.

In reflecting back on the significant things in their lives, people who are terminally ill remember the small things they did, like putting that extra “something” in the lunchbox, a kind remark, or a smile that clearly add-ed a positive note to someone’s life. It isn’t great deeds that are recalled, but small ones done with great love.

Rather than be discouraged by hunger, pain, and suffering in the world, we can allow these conditions to stimulate us to reach deep within, and then respond with compassion — wherever we are. When we do the little things daily with love, and as if they were great and noble deeds, we pass along compassion and kindness — a powerful force for change in the world, and part of the “growing up” process of humankind.

There is a unique, popular buffet restaurant in Winston-Salem, NC which is run 85 percent by volunteers and whose profits go to charity. It serves hundreds of middle-class patrons each evening. It is owned and operated by the Center for Purposeful Living as its service-learning laboratory for students to learn “practical spirituality.”

Some of the regular customers include an elderly couple. The husband is easily confused and often unable to recall where he is seated, which causes him fear and confusion. The volunteers are watchful, and each time the man fills his buffet plate and wants to return to his seat they accompany and guide him back. It is a joy for each volunteer to provide this simple act of kindness, serving both the husband and the wife, who is more relaxed knowing  volunteers are looking out for her loved one.

When individuals and groups consciously choose to fill their lives with service to others, a groundswell of kindness forms. Such groundswells touch far more lives than we can see, because kindness begets kindness and spreads in a ripple effect throughout a community. When small acts are performed as if they were great and noble deeds, the world is changed.

So what would happen, then, if each of us began to view our every thought, word and deed as if it were great and noble, one capable of transforming the world? What impact might our lives have, and what might we remember one day as we look back and review the times of our lives?

For those who are open to exploring the possibility of creating a life where little things count, the Center for Purposeful Living may be a place for you. All students who are accepted into CPL’s service-learning programs receive full scholarships, including room and board.

For additional information about The Center for Purposeful Living, please visit , call (336) 761-8745 or e-mail: 

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