In Chaos Theory, the smallest nudge can trigger enormous changes and dramatic events many years later. This is known as The Butterfly Effect; characterized by the image of a butterfly flapping its wings and triggering the initial wind pattern changes that result in a hurricane in the future.
The truth behind the theory is simple. One action can trigger unforeseen larger events.
What will you do with that power?
I try to save at least one life every day. I don’t know if it works, but I try anyway.
That sounds like a big impossible job unless you’re doctor. Well, I’m not a doctor, and you don’t need to be one. Saving a life doesn’t require surgery or CPR.
Every interaction is a chance to save a life.
Let’s be clear. You might think saving a life is bringing someone back from the brink of death, and you would be right. That’s one extreme end of the spectrum. If you can do that, I salute you. Carry on.
I’m talking about something a little more simple and a lot less dramatic.
You can save a life and change the world by choosing kindness.
You will have numerous opportunities to practice on any given day. All it requires is another human being, even if that other person is just the constant critic in your own head. Here are just a few simple ideas:
- Open doors for people you don’t know. Pay attention to what’s going on behind you every time you open a door. You will notice the people on the way to the same door. Hold the door open for them if they’re with twenty feet. Especially in the rain.
- Smile at strangers. Sure, someone will think you’re crazy. Don’t smile THAT big. A genuine happy to see another living person kind of smile will do the job. Smiles are contagious. Smiles trigger positive feeling, and the release of dopamine in the brain. Smile everywhere you go.
- Make eye contact. This is one way to let people know they matter. You will start to notice how many people go through life with their eyes down when you intend to make eye contact with them. Most people will walk right by and never notice. That doesn’t have to be you. You will eventually pass someone on the same mission. You’ll both smile when your eyes make contact.
- Tip at bars and restaurants. Your server is working under pressure from other customers, their boss, and often crappy pay. None of those pressures get in the way of making sure you feel welcome, and you receive good service. Show some love with a nice tip. I’ve been a Bartender for several years. Trust me, your tip is appreciated and remembered.
- Make someone laugh. Humor always helps heal. Laughter can jolt someone out of a funk quicker than anything else on the list. Some of the best laughs are the reluctant giggles that you work out of someone that just wants to stay upset. Too bad. Life is short. Laugh hard. Laugh often.
Those are the easiest and most numerous ways to apply kindness to the world. Set your intention to generate a spirit of friendliness.
Choose kind words when you speak to another person. It’s almost always possible. Choose kind words when you speak to yourself. That is always possible.
The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively — Bob Marley
How Does Kindness Save A Life?
Your smile might be the only positive thing in a stranger’s entire day. Have you ever considered that? How might that change a person’s day?
You’re not the only one who can have a bad day. You never know what troubles that person behind you in line may be going through. They might be on the last leg of their unemployment and worried about the rent next month. They might be miles away from family. They could be waiting on the results of a medical test.
They might be having a great day. You don’t know. You don’t have to know. Realize that you can change the path of their entire day with a simple act of kindness.
We can all get lost in our own inner world of stress and worry. It can taint every place we go, and affect every person we interact with until something comes along and wakes us up. That’s the opportunity to save a life.
Your one act, your simple connection, will snap someone back to this moment. This moment can allow that person to become aware of the downward spiral they’re riding, and choose a better path with that awareness. All because you smiled.
It may sound too simple. That’s part of the beauty.
Time wallowing in negative emotion is wasting your life. Being kind to someone can make them feel good, reverse the emotion to a more positive state, and that’s a life saved.
Do You Get Angry At Vending Machines?
You’re not going to be perfect at this. Maybe those times when you forget to be kind will be when a stranger delivers the gift to you.
I remember a meeting a few years ago. It was boring, and had already gone way past the time they forecasted. I was down to my last dollar. I had plenty of money in the bank, but there was no ATM in the building. I was thirsty and standing in front of a vending machine. It wanted my last dollar for a drink. Fair enough. I forgot to bring my own drink. I inserted the coins, hit the button, and nothing happened. I kept hitting the button hoping my luck would change. Still nothing.
I didn’t know what to do. All of a sudden my brain stopped working properly, and I got angry at a vending machine. I didn’t have a solution. I just kicked the metallic enemy and walked away thirsty. I got back to the meeting room in a foul mood. I was bored, thirsty, and now the vending machine robbed me.
One of the other participants came back from the break with a bag full of bottled water. He offered me one along with everyone else. I couldn’t be more grateful. It changed my attitude, and therefore the rest of my day. I was more positive immediately.
It turns out that he discovered the thieving machine before I did. He knew there was a gas station a couple blocks away. He took the time during our break to go get everyone a drink instead of getting mad at the machine. His ability to remain calm in that simple situation allowed him to quickly realize a solution. He recognized an opportunity for generosity and kindness.
The Final Key
Expect nothing in return.
Doing good for others is a reward unto itself. Acts of kindness are an easy way to increase your own happiness. Your health will benefit from your positive boost. That positive spirit will ripple through all the parts of your life. The recipient of your kindness will feel the same. It’s a win win situation.
Be like this guy. He gets the message. More importantly, he spreads the message:
Did you notice that even the people that just walk by started smiling? They will go tell everyone in their life about the weird guy giving free hugs. That will spread happiness. It may even inspire another person to go do something awesome.
Consider yourself an Ambassador for the Cult of Awesome. Go out and spread kindness through the land.
Please share your random acts of kindness in the comments below.