Remembering: Little advantages

London street scene, 2005

“Human felicity is produced not so much by great pieces of good fortune that seldom happen, as by little advantages that occur every day.” Benjamin Franklin

Just as it’s often the minor irritations that distract us and wear us down, so too the power of small blessings can transform our lives.  The trick is becoming aware of them. Sunny weather, fragrant blooms, a cup of hot tea on a chilly morning, the delicious smell of food when we’re hungry…what little advantages are brightening your day today?

Update for 11-14-13, one year later:

Those who read this blog frequently will recognize a common theme in this post.  I do a lot of blogging about the small pleasures in life and the everyday things we tend to take for granted. I may seem slightly obsessive about it, but it would not be an exaggeration to say that I’ve often thought my sanity has been preserved by focusing on the small (or not-so-small) blessings that are present no matter how bad things get.

Many years ago, I heard a minister begin a sermon with a series of questions that he suggested we answer on paper, just for our own review.  He didn’t tell us where he was headed with it.  He asked things such as: what is a gadget you use every day? What is the first switch you turn on in the morning?  Who is one of your favorite relatives? What school teacher do you remember most fondly?  And so on.  When he finished, he told us to look over our lists and ask ourselves whether we had ever thought to be thankful for those things.  That sermon is one of the most memorable I have ever heard.  It made me aware that my Walkman, my lamp, my Aunt Peggy and my fourth grade teacher, among countless other people, memories and things, made me a very rich person indeed.

I hope you will share some thoughts about your own “little advantages” with us today.  We might discover more blessings to add to our own lists!

To see the original post with comments, look here.

This post was first published eight years ago today, and re-blogged seven years ago today. The original post, comments and photo are linked, along with two other related posts, below. These links to related posts, and their thumbnail photos, do not appear in the blog feed; they are only visible when viewing the individual posts by clicking on each one. I have no idea why, nor do I know how they choose the related posts. That’s just the way WordPress does things.


  1. Good morning, Julia!
    I like this photo. The teacup tells a story and the walkway beyond puts it into context and enriches the possibilities.

    • Thanks, Susan. I remember getting little to no feedback on this photo when I first posted it, and I was surprised because it was one of my favorite photos. I never thought about why but I think you just pinpointed it! 😀

      • It seems Europeans do it well, incorporating a cup of tea into the story of a busy day. Sidewalks seem better used there, as they are used not just for scurrying but also for tarrying.
        I remember you and I discussing stairway landings and such. Maybe a spot to pause and reflect along the way is a related theme to both of these situations?

        • Susan, it seems that here in the USA, sidewalks are definitely geared toward motion– keeping the pedestrian traffic moving. Can you even imagine having tables and chairs partly blocking a sidewalk in midtown Manhattan? There may be such places, but if so, I haven’t seen them. Ditto for San Francisco. But both cities have parks tucked away here and there, and benches around statues and other quiet places to pause. Probably it has partly to do with the age of the city’s infrastructure. Lots of Europe is a remnant of a way-distant past that was not as barbaric in all ways as we sometimes imagine.

  2. MaryAnn

    Expressing gratitude calms stress. I am grateful for running water, scissors, a comfy couch, my English Lit teacher in high school, the garbage man (one of my favs to realize how grateful I am), a call from someone who always brightens my day. I’ll stop now, so I don’t write a novel. HaHa!
    Just last week, I head about a “Gratitude Jar”. I plan to make one & add to it each day.
    Great post, Julia!

    • Mary Ann, each of us has so many things for which we should feel grateful. The list can literally go on and on, and grows continually. Once the habit of looking for things to appreciate is established, it becomes almost automatic (as, unfortunately, does the habit of finding reasons to be grouchy 😀 ). Here’s my “From grouchy to grateful” list for this morning– reasons to be thankful: my computer is working again (it has grown fairly unreliable lately), sunny weather is forecast for today, it’s cool but not cold yet, I am feeling pretty well, I don’t have COVID or any signs of it, and YES– let’s hear it for reliable garbage and recycling services! Those who keep our utility services running smoothing are unsung heroes! Thank you for mentioning them. I’ve noticed nobody ever praises them, but let one scheduled pickup be missed, and the neighborhood online group lights up with complaints!!

Thanks for encouraging others by sharing your thoughts:

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