The Butterfly Effect

The butterfly effect … a principle theorized by Edward Lorenz in 1917. It stated that if all of the conditions were just right, the wind generated by a butterfly flapping its wings could be the start of a tropical storm.

Everything we do has a butterfly effect. I didn’t ‘get this’ when I was a child or a teenager, and truthfully, I’m only seeing the breadth and depth of this as a parent of adult children and the daughter of aging parents. Every decision, every action, every word has a ripple effect. By our decisions and actions and words we also choose our consequences and often the consequences other people will have to endure because of us. In our myopic human way we often cannot foresee the impact we have on other people.

We may never know how our seemingly small decision to skip a meal (usually makes people grumpy) or stay up late (also makes people grumpy the next day) will affect others. We may never know how deciding to drop out of school or graduate at the top of our class will affect others.

The older I get, the more I understand. Patience is a virtue. Words spoken softly (and/or a gentle, caring hug) are vital even when the recipient is behaving in ‘pushing away’ mode. Listening without interrupting and pausing before speaking are crucial. The majority of things to which I could take offense were done out of ignorance, not malice. Understanding these things has helped me to become more calm and to start my own butterfly effects.

My goal is to not create emotional storms, but to send out gentle breezes of love and peace and goodwill. I’m not perfect – but I am improving. I’m striving to create my own butterfly effect.

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