While this was also the title for a move featuring Ashton Kutcher, and it’s somewhat related to this post, my topic aligns a bit more with the original implications of the theory. In Chaos Theory, The Butterfly Effect describes how a small event can be related to a completely unrelated large event (the links are to Wikipedia for your reading pleasure). These two events do not have to occur in direct succession of one another, meaning if the first one happens today the second one could happen 100 years from now, not tomorrow.
The other implication is that the first event could be negative, but the second event could be positive (or the other way around). I’m sure we can all think of a situation when we were negatively impacted by our actions or the actions of someone else, but in the end it turned out lead us to a positive experience or outcome. I can personally think of several in just the last three years of my life that have lead to some amazing things happening in my life that I benefit from this very second.
This ties in with something I’ve talked about before in my post, “Serendipity is the Sparkle of Everyday Life,” and I believe in and have seen in my own life. The way we frame the world and the events in our lives has a large impact on the way our lives go. The Butterfly Effect takes this to a more abstract place because it implies that we don’t know what impact an event is going to have on our lives – no matter how small, it could be the catalyst for something extraordinary and grand later on, when we least expect it.
This can be applied to the reverse situation, a small thing we do now that is bad, something we don’t give a second thought, but could come back to haunt us later in a much larger way – a little white lie, cutting someone off in traffic, finding a wallet and not turning it in. This is akin to the concept of Karma, but the Western World’s view of Karma – traditional Eastern thought believes this Karmic Return, or return of our actions happen across many lifetimes.
The point I’m driving at is that we don’t know what each event in our live means to us when it happens. It could seem absolutely horrible, or it could seem to be the best thing that’s ever happened to us – we simply don’t know which one it will be when everything is all said and done. This means it’s important not to take anything for granted and not to look at life as isolated incidents that have no bearing on our lives or lives of others – even strangers could be impacted by our decisions.
The next time you cut someone off in traffic, or the next time you have the opportunity to hold the door open for someone else as a gesture of kindness, think about how that small action could play out in the future of the life of someone you don’t even know.