Over the weekend I checked out an art exhibit featuring miniature art. All of the paintings and sculptures were miniature -- no bigger than my hand -- and they were beautiful. They were also quite impressive. How people can paint such tiny, tiny canvases is beyond me. As a walked through the exhibit, surprised by the details and inspired by those who painted them, I began to think about the little things in life that often go unnoticed. Should one of those beautiful paintings be placed in a typical art gallery, it might go unnoticed, dwarfed by the scale of the typical paintings hanging beside it.
Likewise, surrounded by all of the big things in life, the tiny things around us often go unnoticed. For the past 28 days I've been snapping photos of the world around me for the Positively Present 30 Day Photo Challenge. Most of the photos I took were of the big things -- the obvious ins and outs of daily life -- and it felt good to be noticing things. In the rush of every day, it felt good to be paying attention to something, anything.
But after seeing that exhibit this weekend, I realize that I'm still missing out on some of the best things in life: the little things. How often do I look down to see what's on the ground? How often to I look closely at something I love -- a book, a painting, a person -- and really see the little things in it? The soft pages of a book, the brush strokes on canvas, the curve of a loved one's eyelashes? Not often enough, I'd say.
Life is short and I don't want to miss out on any of it. So I'm going to commit to looking at the little things in life -- both through the lens of my camera and through my unfiltered eyes. I'm going to commit to looking for the tiny changes, the small details, the little ways the world is shaped by almost imperceptible elements. But I know it's going to take some practice. Being present is tough enough and looking for the little details will kick the difficulty level up a notch. Here are some of the ways I'm going to learn to look for the little things:
25 Ways to Look for the Little Things
1. Study the lines on the face of someone you love.
2. Watch the sidewalk when you walk.
3. Look closely at the cover of your favorite book.
4. Examine the brush strokes on a painting.
5. Check out the background of a photo.
6. Pick up a fallen leaf and study its color and shape.
7. Pause your favorite scene in a movie and look closer.
8. Look at the details on the font of your favorite website.
9. Seek out one little thing you love about your home.
10. Study your face in the mirror (positively please!).
11. Find a pattern you like and look at the details.
12. Compare two versions of your favorite color.
13. Look at the various colors in a clouded sky (it's not just gray!).
14. Check out the design of a box (cereal, moving, etc.).
15. Study the patterns raindrops make on your window.
16. Watch the way snowflakes land on a hard surface.
17. Check out the people on the sidelines during a big game.
18. Look up and see what's above you right now.
19. Find out the years on the coins in your pocket / purse.
20. Contemplate the color on the walls you pass.
21. Study the shape of your favorite number.
22. Print out a quote you love and memorize the words.
23. Look at shadows cast at various times of the day.
24. Watch the way your hands move when you're typing.
25. Study the way lamps light up a room.
Those are just a few suggestions to get me started. Like most things, I think the more I practice looking for the little things, the easier it will get. Just like being present in a general sense, being present to the little things in life is a great way to live a more positive life. Focusing on what's all around you -- what's happening in this moment -- allows us to live our lives more fully without worrying about the future or dwelling on the past. Don't forget to look for the little things. After all, it's all of those little things that add up to the big picture of your life.
Participating in the 30 Day Photo Challenge?
I'm going to be wrapping up my 30 days this week,
but feel free to join the Photo Challenge any time!
You can check out the Positively Present photos on Flickr,
join the Positively Present Photo Challenge Flickr group,
and share your photos on Twitter or Instagram using #PPphoto.