Life is made up, not of great sacrifices or duties, but of little things, in which smiles and kindnesses and small obligations, given habitually, are what win and preserve the heart, and secure comfort.
How often do we sigh for opportunities of doing good, whist we neglect the openings of Providence in little things, which would frequently lead to the accomplishment of most important usefulness!... Good is done by degrees. However small in proportion the benefits which follow individual attempts to do good, a great deal may thus be accomplished by perseverance, even in the midst of discouragements and disappointments.
When a person has a large amount of any pleasure, he becomes accustomed to it and no longer feels enjoyment. If, however, a person is only able to obtain a small amount, he greatly appreciates it.
If a person demands to have everything he wishes, the lack of even a small pleasure can make him feel extremely unhappy. Excessive demands can even lead some people to consider their entire lives as worthless if they are missing some minor pleasure that they arbitrarily demand.
The influences of little things are as real, and as constantly about us, as the air we breathe or the light by which we see. These are the small - the often invisible - the almost unthought of strands, which are inweaving and twisting by millions, to bind us to character - to good or evil here, and to heaven or hell hereafter.
A small minority are enabled... to find happiness along the path of love; but far-reaching mental transformations of the erotic function are necessary before this is possible. These people make themselves independent of their object’s acquiescence by transferring the main value from the fact of being loved to their own act of loving; they protect themselves against loss of it by attaching their love not to individual objects but to all men equally, and they avoid the uncertainties and disappointments of genital love by turning away from its sexual aim and modifying the instinct which they induce in themselves by this process - an unchangeable, undeviating, tender attitude - has little superficial likeness to the stormy vicissitudes of genital love, from which it is nevertheless derived.
There can be no conquest to the man who dwells in the narrow and small environment of a groveling life, and there can be no vision to the man the horizon of whose vision is limited by the bounds of self. But the great things of the world, the great accomplishments of the world, have been achieved by men who had high ideals and who have received great visions. The path is not easy, the climbing is rugged and hard, but the glory at the end is worthwhile.
Conceit is just as natural a thing to human minds as a centre is to a circle. But little-minded people’s thoughts move in such small circles that five minute’s’ conversation gives you an arc long enough to determine their whole curve. An arc in the movement of a large intellect does not differ sensibly from a straight line.
A happy life is made up of little things in which smiles and small favors are given habitually. A gift sent, a letter written, a call made, a recommendation given, transportation provided, a cake made, a book lent, a check sent - things which are done without hesitation. Kindness isn't sacrifice so much as it is being considerate for the feelings of others, sharing happiness, the unselfish thought, the spontaneous and friendly act, forgetfulness of our own present interests.