There are over 7 billion human beings on this planet. Amongst that many people it is sometimes easy to feel insignificant. It’s easy to ask, “What am I contributing to the world?” and not come up with a satisfying answer.
Even though we are but one of many, each of us has a certain amount of control over how we conduct ourselves and live our lives. This conduct in turn affects other people we come in contact with, who then affect the people they come in contact with, and so on.
A friend of mine had painters working at her house for several days. One of them was a particularly happy man who would sing and smile all the time he was there. She said he made her feel good by just being there. One day he came in smiling and singing until he answered his cell phone. Whoever called had clearly upset him. My friend could see his mood had completely changed after the phone call – no more smiling and singing. She approached him and commented that she didn’t know who had just called him but she could see that they had upset him. She reminded him what a good mood he was in before the call and encouraged him not to let anyone take his happiness away. He realized the effect of the call and decided not to let that phone call ruin his good mood and resumed singing and smiling.
Whoever called the painter that day had set off a negative chain reaction. The painter went from a good mood to a bad mood. His bad mood would then likely have been passed on to whomever he came in contact with that day, and so on. This negative chain reaction is similar to Edward Lorenz’s Butterfly Effect theory which gives the example of a “hurricane’s formation being contingent on whether or not a distant butterfly had flapped its wings several weeks before”.
Everything is connected, so even though we are just one of many, we can still make a huge impact on the world by our everyday actions. Just like the butterfly’s small action can create a huge effect on the other side of the world.
What are we contributing to the world? Are we contributing to negative chain reactions or positive ones? Every day we have the opportunity to improve the world one small action at a time – one smile, one positive or encouraging comment at a time. And that’s a pretty big deal because you never know where it will lead and who it will affect down the line.