The Devil is in the Details

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The Devil is in the Details

This common phrase likely originated in the mid-19th century. It is debated whether it was an art critic or an architect who coined the saying, but either way, today we commonly understand it to mean that it is the small things, the details, that make a task difficult or challenging.

Last night, as I was making dinner, I opened this bottle of wine and there on the cork (seen in pic) was that saying: “The Devil’s in the Details.” I’m almost certain the makers of Handsome Devil Malbec had in their minds to communicate that their attention to detail in the winemaking process is what turned out this fantastic wine (and it was a nice wine). However, it got me thinking about details a bit differently…

In my life, it really is the small things that make life both difficult AND amazing. My daughter walking in to my office to give me a kiss before she leaves for school in the morning, my wife telling me thank you for loading the dishwasher (which I should do regardless), and my son telling me “I love you too” when I tuck him in at night are all relatively insignificant things that really make life amazing. Contrarily, I also let some of the most mundane things make life difficult. People driving slow when I’m in a hurry, someone being a few minutes late for a meeting that has been scheduled for weeks, and forgetting something at home that I intended to bring on vacation are all really small things that sometimes drive me crazy. 

But here is the amazing thing about enhancing your self-awareness – you STOP seeing the Devil in the details and you START only seeing God in the details. The quote was actually bastardized and has been modernized by a 20th and 21st century society that has chosen to focus on failures and difficulties that arise from small things rather than celebrate the beauty that can be achieved by attention to detail. Gustave Flaubert, the writer of Madame Bovary, coined the phrase “the good God is in the details.” Flaubert was noted for being a perfectionist and he felt strongly that only attention to small things allowed you to truly find God. Improving my self-awareness has helped me realize that this is true. When you start to become aware of your own thoughts, you suddenly have the ability to ignore the ‘detail’ thoughts that focus on negativity and enhance the ‘detail’ thoughts that bring joy to your life. The more you bring the joy-filled details out and focus on those, the more at peace you feel and it is in that peace where you often find God. 

So yes, The Devil is in the Details, but more importantly God is in the details. No amount of ‘self-improvement’ will help you achieve peace and joy because you will only focus on fixing the negative details in your life and you’ll always be looking for the devil. Enhancing your self-awareness gives you the ability to choose whether you are looking for the devil or God in those small, insignificant things that fill our daily lives. When you choose to look for God in the details it is really hard to see the devil.

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One thought on “The Devil is in the Details

  1. Pingback: Reflections on 2014 | morningrunguys

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