Small steps, big difference

Two people talking by a bush.

'Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.'

- Vincent Van Gogh

Have you heard people say:

  • Small is beautiful?
  • Take baby steps, or one step at a time?
  • Break it down into bite-sized pieces?
  • Take care of the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves?

There are lots of sayings and proverbs that share the age-old knowledge that if you take care of little things, one at a time, they can add up to big things. And we know this: anyone who has given up smoking, dieted, studied, or struggled to form or break a habit takes one day at a time. Often, if we look at a whole issue, we can become overwhelmed and know not what to do, and often we find ourselves frozen into inaction, and instead, do nothing.

What difference will a penny make when you have £100 to find?

What difference would my smile make when no one else is smiling? 

What difference will one tree make when so many are being cut down?

Imagine if everyone in the UK put a penny in a pot. We would have 64 million pennies. If everyone smiled, 64 million smiles (which might be a bit weird! But it would feel very friendly). If everyone planted a tree: 64 million trees….

Hugh from Grow 73 plants flowers at Rutherglen Station

Small gestures and small steps can mean so much more than grand ones. Simple pleasures, little joys, acts of kindness, sharing smiles and laughs, or receiving a genuine ‘thank you’ or compliment can make us all feel a part of the world — and know that we matter, are noticed and seen.

We believe everyone can make a difference, even if it’s a little difference; a small, ordinary but beautiful interaction or connection. And if all 64 million people did a small thing every day — brought together it could be amazing.

Start walking

Here are a dozen small steps in the right direction: 

  1. Smile at people you don’t know
  2. Let someone on the bus, tube or train before you
  3. Plant flowers, fruit, vegetables or trees
  4. Phone someone you haven't spoken to in a while 
  5. Send a hand-written letter or postcard
  6. Lend a stranger a helping hand
  7. Share the things you find so funny they make you laugh out loud
  8. Take time out to talk to someone new
  9. Say thank you — and mean it
  10. Carry someone's luggage or shopping
  11. Offer to babysit
  12. Spruce up public spaces by picking up rubbish 

What would you add to the list?