The Butterfly Effect, the Ripple Principle, Paying it Forward...there are a lot of names to talk about the idea of one act making a big difference.
This is a frustratingly hard concept to believe. I have a hard time with it.
Many of us yearn to be significant, to make a big impact. We get discouraged when we fire up the ‘ol computer and see site after site of people who are trying to do the same thing we are, and seem to be doing it a thousand times better than us.
So let’s simplify.
Shortly after I graduated from college, I went to work as an admission officer for an all girls boarding school. I had an apartment attached to one of the dorms, and had the privilege of being a “dorm parent” at the ripe old age of 23.
One night, I was having a conversation with a few of the girls about body image and dieting. I don’t remember the details of the conversation, but I do remember that I was taking a few months off from exercising during that time.
Apparently, I shared this fact with them, and explained how I took a few months off of exercising to prove to myself that I was going to be just fine, my body was going to be just fine, my worth would still be intact if I didn’t exercise or have perfect muscle tone.
Fast forward 7 years. I’m in grad school, and I realize that one of the girls who I had this conversation with was now a senior at the same school. I had the pleasure of reconnecting with her for lunch one day.
After a hug, one of the first things she said to me was, “I’ve thought about writing to you over the years. I remember a conversation we had that totally changed my life. It shifted the way I thought about things and the way I treated my body.”
In that moment, I was reminded to never underestimate our value. If for nothing else, know that one honest conversation can make a huge difference in a person’s life. You have the power to change someone’s life.
After all, statisically, the odds of you being born in this particular time, place, and circumstance are 1 in 400,000,000,000! (Calculations factored in odds of continuous survival of more than 100,000 generations of predecessors, biogenesis, and specific sperm and egg combinations to create exactly you).
You are not here by accident. You are already making a difference.
Don’t believe me?
Who is one person I have taught something to?
Who is one person I have helped? Maybe you bought a sandwhich for the man on the corner who is hungry, maybe you shoveled snow for a sick neighbor.
What’s one act I’ve done to change my world for the better? Maybe you recycle or compost. Maybe you are getting an education and sharing your knowledge or putting it to use. Maybe you give up your seat on the bus so someone else can sit. Thoughtfulness is not to be underrated.
Each person you impact is connected to a whole network of people that they can impact. Let your magic, your kindness, and your presence spread.
“The great lesson...is that the sacred is in the ordinary, that it is to be found in one’s daily life, one’s neighbors, friends, and family, in one’s back yard.”
- Abraham Maslow