Why is it that we often underestimate the big importance of small things? Even though each time we do, we get taught a lesson by life to remind us that the devil is, indeed, in the details. He comes out when those details get underestimated.
Is it because we find it easier to pay attention to the big stuff? Whenever a big decision is coming up, a big move, a big feat, something that we perceive as ‘big’ – that is what we automatically focus on. The big is automatically important. It makes sense. If we get it wrong, then the negative consequences are also likely to be big. Also, we feel the lack of something big much more acutely than of something small. Or at least we think we do. And this is our mistake. This is where the devil hides. The ‘miss big stuff – get big consequences’ logic does not necessarily transfer by analogy to the ‘miss small stuff – get small consequences’. Nope. More often than not we are surprised to find out that it is actually ‘miss small stuff – get big (and annoying) consequences’.
Have you ever missed your regular cup of coffee in the morning and then felt half-dead for the most part of the day? Have you noticed how much difference an even faintly unpleasant smell makes to even the most lavishly decorated room? Have you ever felt surprised at how something you mentioned without much thought turned out to be of great significance to someone you hardly know?
Maybe we find it hard to grasp the big significance of small things because they are small to us. It is our own perception that can lead us into underestimating something (to our own and, sometimes, others’ detriment). If nothing else, that is a reason enough to keep broadening our perception, getting to know ourselves better. As Henry David Thoreau put it: ”It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”