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December 14, 2019

How the Butterfly Effect Expands Our Kindness Footprint

Let’s face it — change is the one of the rare few certainties in life that is courteous enough to keep us involved. Simply said, uncertainty is the only certainty in life. Unfortunately, most of us are far too caught questioning our existence in the grand scheme of things and feeling helpless instead of becoming an agent for change.

So why do we still feel so powerless if we know what kind of change is worth investing in?

It’s said that a single butterfly flapping its wings on one side of the globe can, in theory, start a hurricane on the other. But before you retreat into an existential crisis, you should realize it’s an analogy that works the way you want it to.

Most of us see change as a bunch of clouds jogging in and out of the sky.

If we reflected deeper to see change as a series of events connected to us, we would also see what a wonderfully dynamic wave it can be. We would appreciate how those clouds brought rain, watered our crops, and eventually put the food on our plates that led us to being intelligent enough to think so deeply in the first place.

A simple shift in perspective from a ‘glass is half empty’ kind to a ‘glass is half full’ kind is enough to stir up a revolution. Yes, even a little act of kindness we take for granted can lead to a series of positive circumstances that can change the world.

And when millions of people take tiny steps together, we can truly make a giant leap on behalf of mankind. After all, isn’t the greatest legacy to leave behind a world worth living in for those who come after us?

One of the earliest and most memorable portrayals of the butterfly effect in pop culture was illustrated through the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” in 1946. It is a story about a character named George Bailey (a mortgage guy) and an angel who shows the negative turn of events in the lives of people in his hometown if history was rewritten without him.

I’ve always wondered – if it takes the threat of global warming for us to realize the impact of our carbon footprint, how long would it take for this world to realize its capability of spreading world peace?

How long will it take before we stop trading today to borrow from our tomorrow?

The changes we need as a society aren’t some hardship-packed sacrifices that will pull us back into the Dark Ages. All it takes is for you to embrace compassion as a choice of lifestyle and commit to at least one small act of kindness as a daily ritual.

The Butterfly Effect in Action – Inspiring True Stories of Compassion

How far can an ordinary act of kindness go to become extraordinary? The truth is – every single act is extraordinary. It’s just that we lack the foresight to see the domino effect of positivity it can trigger.

If you’re still not convinced, here’s an interesting story for you to ponder over.

You must be remembering how the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge helped raise $100 million last year on the back of millions of silly daredevils. Yes, it was probably the first time we could measure the global panorama of happiness weaved by the butterfly effect.

However, this story is not about the ALS challenge. It’s about a man named Chris Rosati – someone who has lived through ALS – and his incredible revelation about the butterfly effect.

“An act of kindness, how far could it go?” he wondered.

At a diner in his hometown of Durham, North Carolina, Rosati came across two girls sitting next to his table. After introducing himself to these strangers, he handed them each $50 and echoed one simple sentiment, “Do something kind.”

He left the diner and forgot the incident until he received an email one fine day bringing back the memory in unbelievable fashion.

It was an e-mail from two girls he had given the money too at the diner. Included inside, were pictures from a village in Africa with people holding signs that read, “Thanks a lot for spreading kindness — Chris Rosati.”

The two girls, 13-year-old Cate Cameron and her 10-year-old sister Anna recalled their side of the story later. Their father had worked extensively in a Sierra Leone village helping the locals combat the Ebola outbreak.

Inspired by Rosati’s random act of kindness, they decided to use that money to pay for a village feast to help them celebrate being Ebola-free.

Seeing how quickly, powerfully, and profoundly the butterfly effect in motion turned out to be, Rosati became a true believer in its potential to change the world.

He recently launched a campaign to hand out hundreds of similar $50 butterfly grants to kids with a plan and the dedication towards acts of kindness.

I think this little gem of a quote by Anthony Hollander really nails the moral theme of this inspiring tale — “As adults we can tend to lose the capacity to dream and think big. Children will dream unselfconsciously. I still do that – I still go around telling people ‘these are the things I want to do’. I don’t have time for any kind of skepticism.”

No good deed is ever inconsequential. Even if it’s one life you wish to change, you set in motion forces of positivity beyond your control that can grow into a happiness hurricane for hundreds and thousands of other lives. Here’s another interesting story of how small acts of kindness led to historical events and paved the way for legendary figures.

In the countryside of Scotland, a poor farmer was laboring through his daily routine when he heard a desperate cry for help. Alarmed, he immediately he dropped what he was doing and made his way to the source of the commotion. When he reached there, he came across a terrified boy stuck up to his waist in quicksand. As every second passed by, the panic began sinking deeper and deeper into the bog.

Without a moment’s hesitation, the farmer retrieved his ropes and rescued the boy by pulling him out of it.

The next day, a stylishly clothed nobleman named Lord Randolph Churchill, dropped by the farmer’s humble home. He introduced himself as the father of the boy the farmer had saved and expressed his gratitude by asking him if there was any way he could repay the farmer for his kindness.

Eventually, the nobleman insisted on setting up the farmer’s son with the best quality education he could have at the time. He believed with the right skills and the values of his father, the farmer’s son would grow into a man the world would be proud of. Years later, the prediction proved to be a prophecy fulfilled as the farmer’s son grew up to become the discoverer of Penicillin, Sir Alexander Fleming.

One day, the same nobleman’s son who was rescued by the farmer was afflicted with a serious bout of pneumonia. Guess what saved his life this time?


That’s not the only remarkable part of the story though. You see, the nobleman’s son grew up to be Sir Winston Churchill.

How amazing is the fact that one act of kindness paved the path for two monumental figures in history whose work affected generations of people who came after them? Reality can often be stranger than fiction.

Become the Hero of Your Own Story

One of the biggest mistakes we make in our lives is to underestimate our individual potential and resign ourselves to an illusion of helplessness. We question how our mundane, insignificant lives can ever be of a grand consequence to the world.

It’s not even the failure that holds us back, but the fear of being ignored that stops us from even trying. I’m no professional rapper, but if 2Pac were still alive today, I’m pretty sure he would say something like, “I can’t hate my fate before I participate!” (or something along those lines).

Ideas can change the world, but they can only do so when we act on them. And whether we ever get to see the outcome of our acts of compassion, the truth is every single act of kindness holds the power to transform the world.

You don’t need to have the financial and networking firepower of celebrities to make a difference in the world. All you need is honest intentions and a kind heart to be the hero you always dreamed about saving the world.

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