One Small Touch

“Each time someone stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, they send forth a tiny ripple of hope.” ~ Robert F. Kennedy

Some, perhaps many, of us have learned: We did not have to do something amazing to initiate growth. A small action can go a long way. It doesn’t take a boulder to create a ripple effect in the water. A finger is enough. As everything is interconnected in life, we only need be brave enough to take the first, maybe very small step. Before we know it, we may realize that we are a ripple effect.

A ripple effect is a situation where, like the ever-expanding ripples across the water when an object is dropped into it, an effect from the initial state can be followed outward incrementally. Applied to our lives, everything we do and think affects people in our lives and their reactions in turn affect others. The choices you make have far reaching consequences. Not surprisingly then, each of us carries within us the capacity to change the world in small ways for better or worse.

Examples of ripple effect can be found in economics, social interactions, charitable activities, financial markets, political influence, compassionate action and so on. The concept helps to explain how individual and grassroots efforts can yield significant change.

Case in point: A Harvard University study was conducted on a large, real world social network. It used modern statistical methods to analyze data from the Framingham Heart Study. It found that if a friend of a person became happy, the person’s chance of becoming happy increased by about 15%. If a friend of a friend became happy it increased by about 10% and a friend of a friend of a friend by almost 6%. This event occurred even if the person had never met many of the people involved.

If we can synchronize our intentions and actions toward common goals, our independent waves will continue to add to each other as they travel out through energetic fields. The result will be much greater than we can manifest independently.

Here are three ways in which you can initiate ripple effect:

  1. I’m not promoting this; it’s simply an example: For just US$4 you can provide a child with clean water. Consider joining the Ripple Effect movement and invest US$4 every month to save and improve lives. You’ll contribute to a wave of positive change and watch as the waves get bigger and bigger, bringing clean water, better health, and new opportunities to countless in great need.
  2. Move forward so that you are in your best place possible including relationships, health, career, and spirituality. To effectively help others, you often have to have gone through difficult experiences in order to relate to others. But you also have to know how to grow from those experiences and to use them to benefit yourself and others. If you succeed and “walk your walk,” others can and will be more open to your insight and ways.
  3. Your influence and ability to effect change will grow as your ripples flow outward. Consider smiling at someone you don’t know, acting instead of just thinking, initiating a thoughtful gesture, or alleviating a stranger’s pain. Do good things. Small things. Humbly. For others.

Humility Helps

“I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it’s my chief duty to accomplish humble tasks as though they were great and noble.”

~ Helen Keller

I used to think I was important. And I struggled with believing that I was worthy. For each of us, the notion of humility as a virtue brings numerous images to mind. We tend to envision those rare individuals who humbly bear life’s struggles while downplaying their own strengths. Yet humility is also associated with people whose insecurities compel them to judge themselves unfavorably. The true definition of humility, however, does not correspond with precisely either of these images.

Humility is not passivity. Rather, it is an utter lack of importance. Individuals who embody the concept of humility appreciate that each human being occupies a unique place within the sphere of development. Though they can take pride in their own accomplishments, they also understand that the people they interact with each day are as valuable and have as much to offer the world as they themselves do.

As you consider your own humility, keep in mind that to be humble is to accept that while there will always be people more and less advanced than yourself, each individual can provide you with insights that further your own personal growth. Recognizing this is a matter of opening yourself to the fact that not only do others think differently than you, but their life experiences have shaped them in a very different way than yours have shaped you.

This means that while you may have a greater understanding is some areas, others will always be able to teach you something. When you cultivate a genuine yearning to know what skills and talents those you encounter have been blessed with, you cannot help but learn humility. You instinctively understand that emotions like envy breed resistance that prevents you from growing, and that being flexible in your interactions with others will help you connect with unexpected mentors.

Think about when you talk to your older relatives. It can be time-consuming, repetitive, and at times, underwhelming. But it is important to acknowledge that they often spent their lives contributing to raising you (whether directly or indirectly). When you practice humility, you want to become as accomplished and evolved as you can possibly be, yet you are willing to submit to the expertise of others to do so. You understand the scope of your attitudes yet you choose to dismiss arrogance from your attitude, and you can distinguish the value you possess as an individual while still acting in the interests of others.

Humility, simply put, is a form of balance in which you can celebrate your own worth while believing that every other person is just as worthy as you.

If you’re looking for ways in which to be more humble in your life, consider these tips:

  • As a human being you need to be aware of your faults and misgivings. You need to know that you are not unsurpassed. It’s okay to not be perfect and accept your weaknesses. A better self-awareness will help you be more humble in life.
  • Learn to say “I don’t know.” It’s hard, for whatever reason, to answer someone “I don’t know.” Probably because all of the world’s information is at our fingertips, not knowing something seems like an excuse or not a legitimate answer. Life’s full of questions we simply don’t have answers to. Say “I don’t know,” listen, then learn.
  • Serve someone. We instinctively resist serving because we believe there is a direct relationship between being served and being important. Bring someone a cup of coffee, run an errand for a friend, give away some money.

Most of us still have some learning and practicing to do. Yes/no?

Delight in Discovery

“I do not seek. I find” ~ Pablo Picasso

There is something magical about discovery. Receiving or naming a precious find; that gush of sensory glee – these are part of what makes discovery exciting.

Yet if I were to ask you what your passion is, could you name it? If you are like many people you would answer, “I’m not sure.” So many of us are busy with our day-to-day responsibilities that we have become strangers to our passion. We may catch brief moments of joy and inspiration, but rarely do we benefit from prolonged periods of passion. Our lives simply do not consistently reflect what’s at our core.

Then, you have a life-changing experience that creates a sudden epiphany of an underlying passion. The experience is unexpected and its effect is powerful. With abrupt clarity, you are left with awareness of who you must be. It can come anytime, anywhere – while on a quiet walk, reading a book, taking a shower or performing daily tasks. Whatever its context, it’s an explicit wake-up call from your heart.

So how do you discover what lights your fire and will keep it burning for a long time? How do you know if something is truly your passion? Well, for starters, you get that constant yearning; you’re willing to take risks for it; and even when people tell you you’ve lost your mind, your pursuits remain unwavering.

Most of us uncover our passion gradually as a result of daily experiences. There are sneak previews, courtesy of your intuition but few understand the significance. Yet the messages are there. And unless you heed them, you are likely to dispel them. The challenge is learning to listen to and interpret the signals…the whispers, and translate them into action.

But what if you don’t know what your passion(s) is (are)? What if you’re still searching? Here are four (of many) ways to help find your passion:

  1. Play – If the process confuses or bothers you, just play with it. Don’t force a purpose until you can define one. Amuse yourself with the process.
  2. Become Curious – Curiosity is the basis for passion. Let go of your current understandings and begin from a point where you are almost completely ignorant on the subject. Then look for creative, unusual ways to boost your interest.
  3. Encourage Enthusiasm – Energy is contagious. Spend time with someone who exudes passion about something. Seek out people who have the energy you want. Ask them to describe their motivation. These may yield information you had no idea could be so intriguing.
  4. Be Humble – This is necessary for passion but arrogance can destroy it. Grow this confidence where you believe in your abilities to handle the unknown while retaining respect for it.

And listen. Really listen. Shut out the daily noise, stress and confusion. Seek perspective on your life. Answer these questions: Where am I today? Where do I want to be tomorrow? What do I want to do with my life?

If you still cannot identify your passions, try a different discovery path. Seek out new experiences, people and activities. Look for fresh in the stale, the new in the old. If you sense a bolder move is necessary, step out of your comfort zone and take some risks. If you usually stand on the sidelines as an observer, jump in as an active participant. The point is to side step what could be preventing you from finding things you are exceptional at and that you enjoy.

Discovering your passion takes a fair amount of soul-searching. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t discover it right away – you will find it. And it will probably come to you when you least expect it.