Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Ripple Effect

In a world of six billion people, it’s easy to believe that the only way to initiate profound transformation is to take extreme action.

However, each of us carries within us the capacity to change the world in small ways for better or worse. Everything we do and think affects the people in our lives, and their reactions in turn affect others. As the effect of a seemingly insignificant word passes from person to person, its impact grows and can become a source of great joy, inspiration, anxiety, or pain. Our thoughts and actions are like stones dropped into still waters, causing ripples to spread and expand as they move outward.

The impact we have on the world is greater than we could ever imagine, and the choices we make can have far-reaching consequences. We can use the ripple effect to make a positive difference and spread waves of kindness that will wash over the world.

Should the opportunity arise, the recipient of a good deed will likely feel compelled to do a good deed for someone else. On the other hand, someone feeling the effects of negative energy might be more likely to pass on that negative energy. One act of charity, one thoughtful deed, or even one positive thought can pass from individual to individual, snowballing until it becomes a the ray of light that saves someone’s life.

I like to share my story of a young man who was a server in a restaurant we used to frequent. He spoke of how he lived in a basement apartment with little sunlight and worked in a dark, wood paneled restaurant, again with very little sunlight. It depressed him and he saw himself going nowhere in life. I visited one day and gave him a bag of (what was then new to the market) light bulbs that would replicate sunlight. He left that job shortly after and I never saw him again, until about ten years later. He recognized me while we dined at another restaurant and came over to tell me that the light bulbs made a difference. It was not just the bulbs, but rather the simple act of caring that inspired him to further his education and earn his degree in teaching. He then married another teacher and had a child on the way.

So, this one act of kindness transformed a depressed individual into a brilliant teacher, and we will never know the differences that this teacher will make in the lives of others, and what ripples will be sent forth.

Every transformation, just like every ripple, has a point of origin. We must believe in our ability to be that point of origin as we seek to spread the goodness of God, as we are called to do.

A smile directed at a stranger, a compliment given to a friend, an attitude of laughter, or a thoughtful gesture can send ripples that spread among our loved ones and associates, out into our community, and finally throughout the world. We have the power to touch the lives of everyone we come into contact with and therefore everyone those people come into contact with. The momentum of our influence will grow as our ripples moves onward and outward.

One of those ripples could become a tidal wave of goodness, compassion, and love.

With love & light,


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