Jan. 20, 2010 12:00

From the wings of butterflies

The reasons behind which we make decisions in our life are not always clear. And the way those decisions play out with impact on the different aspects of our lives and the lives of others isn’t either. Yet the Butterfly Effect, ripples in a pond, six degrees of separation, karma, however you wanna look at it — these things are real. Everyone and everything interacts to shape and mold and cause changes in our surroundings, whether its something as small as another person’s emotions or response to a question or grand as altering the course of history.

This has led me to wonder how living a life where there is a concerted effort to do good and lead by examples of virtue would affect the big picture while still seeing the direct, local impact. Instead of allowing negative influences into our lives while still addressing the bad parts of what is happening around us can be tricky. We’re only human and are all susceptible to the cause-andeffect nature of karma. Even with the most noble and steadfast conviction to do good things in order for good things to happen to us, the fact is that it’s nearly impossible to do the best thing all the time. The way things work isn’t cut and dried enough to tell whether the decision one makes is going to hurt anyone down the line or if it should have been done differently.

That’s where I think living and fulfilling karmic values can start to make a difference. All your acts and deeds, positive or negative, actively form and direct the experiences in your life. Even if we are unable to implement this type of thought into our daily lives all the time, it’s possible to make little ripples with just a handful of small good deeds. Try to do one or two good deeds every day and changes in your own life will start to manifest themselves. A small act of kindness will make a difference even if it’s just for a moment. Something as minor as sparing some change for a stranger or helping the neighbor rake leaves could be the highlight of that person’s day and you never know how that is going to play out in the long run. It could lead to a new friendship or ally when things aren’t going your way or feeling a little more confident when you wake up on the right side of the bed.

However, it’s all too easy to forget about the opposite side of the coin — malevolence, greed, hate, conceit and so many other negative influences and acts. Most of us don’t start the day with the intent to do harm or hurt others, but it still happens. Consider how you respond to someone who upset you. Was it calm and thought out or were the tones and words meant to cut? Were there lies or fibs to make a presentation or yourself look better or someone else look worse?

These actions and choices are aspects of life that can be done without. For the cycle of cause and effect to be made stronger and those good deeds to serve a purpose, changes regarding the harmful actions and choices have to be made. If it’s reasonable to believe that good begets good, then it’s fair to say that bad begets bad. Think about how the person you insulted is going to feel the rest of the day and what the benefits of becoming angry are. The ripples start within yourself, affecting your thoughts and move outward impacting those around you and further still into actions and decisions in the future. So

I propose in addition to adding some good deeds to your day, take out some of the small negative aspects of your life each day. It can start out with something as easy as counting to 10 before making that comment on the tip of your tongue or letting someone get the last cup of coffee in the break room. After a while I think it becomes apparent that with less negativity cluttering up your day, there’s more energy for positivity to go around.

So this has led me to believe that if there was a concerted effort to do a handful of small good deeds each week, it would grow into a conglomerate of kindness without allowing for too many negative ripples; and with less negativity going on between everyone there will be more kindness to go around. Imagine how much different life and society could be if instead of someone speeding up to cut you off they gave you a wave and the right of way instead. Or if you came home to find an apple crumb pie and a “thanks for the help” card on the doorstep from your neighbor. It would make the little things in life a little bigger and the sunshine a little brighter.

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