Happiness is in the Detail

Water DropletFor most of my life, people have been telling me that it’s all about the big picture. It was only very recently that I realized that they were all wrong. You see, big pictures are made up of a thousand details and if you ignore them, you ignore life.

Often, we focus on the destination or the outcome and fail to take care of the detail. It’s like spending your time dreaming of that lifetime vacation without ever having a plan of how you are going to get there.

But it’s more profound than that.

It was the other day that I realized I leave our apartment in the morning much happier if I have seen the bright, crazy and beautiful smile of my darling six-year-old girl. But the profound realization was not that sometimes I left too early and missed her smile. No, it was the realization that the space that would have been filled with happiness and joy was now filled with sadness.

This started me on a simple task: to make a list of the things that make me happy and the things that make me sad or anxious. It was on this list that I found my daughter’s smile­—but also bacon sandwiches!

And saying, “I love you forever,” on the phone to my old mum and hear her choke up a little because time is not on her side. Hearing her say back to me that I will always be her little boy and how she remembers putting little toy farm animals in my Christmas stocking when I was four years old.

What else did I find on that list? Recognition, feeling worthy, making progress, loving and being loved. Never having to say sorry. Those are more complex details but nonetheless, they are details in the big picture of happiness.

So far, my list has over thirty things on it that make me happy but the list is still growing. The list of things that make me sad or anxious is shorter because most of them would be the absence of what makes me happy so there’s no point in listing them out.

And my list took me to the next place: to ensure that every single day, I was focused on the detail of happiness, adding those moments in increasing quantity to my life. Then, subtracting the details that make me sad or anxious. And that means never missing the infectious smile on my little girl’s face in the morning­­­­­­—even if I am late for that meeting!

This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t step back once in a while to survey the horizon. But when we think about all the things we should be thankful for, we cannot miss the reality that they are all details.

Just as the devil is in the detail, so too is joy and happiness. If you take care of the details, the big picture will take care of itself.

Me, I’m getting on the phone to my old mum to tell her I love her and let her hear the giggling voice of her youngest granddaughter. And I’m eating a bacon sandwich.


  1. Reblogged this on Darkest Depression and commented:
    An interesting way to think of things. Maybe I will try to begin my own list.

  2. That was awesome 🙂 Coming from an addictive past, having now recovered from it and Borderline Personality Disorder, I have to look at life this way. I am constantly pulling myself from fear and worry, back into now, to the present. You have a lovely way of stating it. Thank you. And you have really made me want a bacon sandwich.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: