The Ripple Effect: Personal Influence and Responsibility

casting-stoneWe never do truly understand the impact or effect that we have on others.  There are so many things that combine to affect our perspective and create an experience, including  our past, our beliefs, and our current situation.  Two people can pass through the exact same circumstances and have completely different experiences.

Our actions create ripples across the universe.  The results of these ripples may be instantly visible, delayed, or completely unknown to us, yet they have an impact.  I remember writing a Facebook post on my wall a couple years ago.  It was nothing special, just what I felt at that moment on that day.  More than a year later, I received a message from a friend, stating how that particular post changed her life, and she’s been a better person ever since.  That was a positive ripple (thankfully!).  Another time, on the way to the zoo with the kids, there was a man on the side of the road with a sign saying ‘will work for food.’  I felt impressed to give him some money, so I did.  We went to the zoo, had a great time with the kids, and jumped back in the truck to leave for home.  All of a sudden, my 9 year old son said “Dad, we still have some food.  Maybe we can find that man again, and give this food to him.”  I didn’t realize how a small act could have a teaching impact for my son.  Am grateful.

As we walk life’s path, we should ask ourselves how the ripples of our actions will affect others.  Our lives become better as we help others’ lives become better.  When I focus on you, I cannot focus on me.  We lose our selfishness merely by the act of helping others.  We have many great examples of ‘ripple-makers’ who have had great influences in our lives.  People like Mother Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi, and Bono through their actions.  People like Walden & Thoreau through their writings.  Folks like U2 & Vivaldi with their music.

One of the challenging things about ripples is our intent.  We may have the best intentions in the world about what we say and what we do, however we don’t have any control about how the other person will receive what we offer.  If we offend without intending to, it’s nobody’s fault.  It’s easier to just apologize and move on.

Cast your stone over life’s pond, and leave the largest and happiest ripples that you can.  This is called a legacy.