Last week, I wrote that I was disappointed to find so few of my recent posts with long-term, general relevance, and I was going to make an effort to increase the number of such posts in the future. So when I posted about bathroom fans and timer switches a few hours ago, I got a few responses that were mocking me for writing something seemingly frivolous after making such a proclamation.
To clarify, I only said I was going to increase the number of long-term-value posts, not that I was never going to post anything light or fun in the meantime. And I think people who complain about my seemingly frivolous subject matter probably have a different idea of “lasting value” than my interpretation.
Installing timer switches on my bathroom fans has eliminated a daily annoyance from my life. Deciding on a pillowcasing strategy has made me sleep more comfortably every night since I wrote that stupid article seven years ago. By caring about what type of headphones I use, I satisfy my own needs better and annoy the people around me less every day.
These may sound trivial, but they add up. As Joel Spolsky wrote 12 years ago:
So that’s what days were like. A bunch of tiny frustrations, and a bunch of tiny successes. But they added up. Even something which seems like a tiny, inconsequential frustration affects your mood. Your emotions don’t seem to care about the magnitude of the event, only the quality.
And I started to learn that the days when I was happiest were the days with lots of small successes and few small frustrations.
I’m constantly seeking other little ways to improve my life: ways to eliminate frustrations and create even more tiny successes and little delights every day. As I wrote four years ago:
I try to be discerning in everything, because I love it. I love the research and acquisition of specialty things, I love finding new and better versions of the things I like, and I love discovering the immense depth of hobbies and goods that most people never see.
All of these minutiae — every little thing I care about in my life, some of which I take the time to write about — adds up to a life full of little victories, and I’m extremely happy.
By sharing insights and opinions on these little things, I can make other people’s lives better, too, a little at a time.
When I first started writing, I was reaching dozens of people. Now I’m reaching hundreds of thousands, a great honor. But the far more satisfying honor is when I hear from a few of them after writing one of my life-minutiae posts, and they tell me that I’ve just made their lives a little bit better.
That’s why I do this.
If you don’t care about such minutiae, that’s fine. I just hope you have something that you do care about. But I care about this sort of thing, and I get immense joy and satisfaction from improving the minutiae in other people’s lives.