The Least You Can Do
Updated: Dec 16, 2020
My kids actually believe that doing chores is just too much to ask. My tween son is supposed to take out the trash on Sundays, retrieve the empty cans on Monday afternoon, and clear the dinner dishes, on the off chance one of his parents doesn’t automatically do it for him. My daughter is supposed to sweep the kitchen floor once during the week and set the dinner table, again, on the off chance it hasn’t already been done by me during an over-zealous hour in the kitchen. Pretty easy tasks. But you’d think we were asking them to race up a mountain, with a 20 pound vest strapped to them. Such complaining. Such drama. And I tell them that doing these small tasks around the house is the least they can do to keep their own home looking decent. It is the least they can do, considering how much trash they produce, how many meals they eat, and how many of the crumbs on the floor probably belong to them. It is the bare minimum, but still makes a difference in the grand scheme of things.
I don’t think we give much thought to the least we can do. What if the least we could do was actually the best next step to take? The least we can do doesn’t mean it is not important.
Some really great things happened as a result of the the least someone could do:
Rosa Parks parked her butt in a seat. She didn’t riot or run for office or do other BIG things that were also a part of the Civil Rights movement. That initial action was certainly dramatic, but it was not a lot of work on her part personally, in that moment. She simply sat. It was literally the least she could do.
Jared and his subway sandwich eating habitat lead to 200 pounds of lost weight. He still wanted his coveted fast food, he still refused to purchase fresh vegetables, join the gym, or make any sort of home cooked meal even though he knew they were better for his health. The least he could do was order a healthier sandwich at Subway, and hold the side of chips.
Herschel Walker and his washboard abs are famous. He deeply disliked his NFL team workouts and much preferred to chill at home. He used his time in front of the television wisely, doing strength exercises during every commercial break, so the story goes. Doing sit-ups for 2 minutes was literally the least he could do, and led him to being one of the most fit athletes of his time.
Saying please or thank you to a stranger who has helped you is the least you can do. And what a difference it might make for the recipient.
Wearing a mask during this pandemic is the least you can do. A small piece of fabric, design or color of your choosing, that protects you and more importantly, others, from the virus. The singular act takes zero effort - the compound impact is potentially hundreds of lives.
Maintaining a one in, one out policy with purchases. Other than food, simply using your shopping as also the opportunity to purge. Four pairs of jeans in, 2 pairs of jeans, that jacket that you really don’t like and your old running shoes - out. That keeps the house in check, and it is the least you can do to keep the closet from overflowing.
Replacing one of your beverages with a glass of water. Standing at your desk instead of sitting. Making your bed, even if the rest of the room sits cluttered. Doing squats while brushing your teeth. Cleaning out one single item that doesn’t belong from a drawer. Looking in the mirror and smiling at yourself each morning and evening.
Take one of your long-term goals. Write down all of the steps that need to be taken in order to achieve it. Get down and dirty with details. Now for each step it takes, dig even further and pull out the steps that it takes to deal with those steps. Ex. lose 25 pounds. It will take exercise. It will take eating meals that are more nutrient dense. It will take not eating your favorite chocolate cake that makes the whole house smell so good. Those are all pretty big changes. So break it down more. Exercise probably means lifting weights or walking for 12,000 steps each day, but walking 12,000 steps is roughly 850 steps per hour. That seems like a lot, until you actually start stepping. The least I can do is march in place while I’m waiting for the microwave to finish, or while I’m brushing my teeth, or while I’m on the phone with a friend. The least I can do is take a stroll around the house or yard to relax after a stressful work call. The least I can do is get up and march until I count to 100 before sitting back down again. Bring together all of those “leasts” and you’ll go to bed each night having done something significant. You might not get to 12,000 steps, but you get a whole lot closer than you would’ve had you not done your least.
Don’t you owe it to yourself to do the least? It might even lead you to do more, and come just a little bit closer to doing and being your best. Ask yourself - what is the LEAST you can do to get started in the right direction to managing your life? What can you do right now that won’t be hard, won’t be problematic, and keeps you moving in the right direction? Remember that small things lead to big things.
So just sweep the floor already. It’s the least you can do!