30 Days of “A Year of Living Your Yoga” — Day 24: Butterfly Effect, Chaos Theory

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Welcome to Day 24 of my blog series based on Judith Hansen-Lasater’s “A Year of Living Your Yoga.”

I will try to keep these posts to about 500 words.

Here is the quote:

November 13 — The ability to understand the cost of my choices before I make them is the beginning of wisdom. Whatever choice you make, the choice affects the world in ways you will never know. When you makes choices today, make them with love.

Yes. So wise. So true and it is the beginning of wisdom, but to me, it’s also the beginning of so much more.

 

thing 3 loved this butterfly so much; he wanted me to take its picture.

thing 3 loved this butterfly so much; he wanted me to take its picture.

Have you ever heard of the “butterfly effect” regarding “chaos theory”? It’s quite simply: the phenomenon whereby a minute localized change in a complex system can have large effects elsewhere (wikipedia). It stems from a theory originated in 1980 which posits the notion that a butterfly fluttering in Rio de Janeiro could change the weather in Chicago (wikipedia).

I absolutely believe in the butterfly effect.

I’ve seen it started and I’ve also seen it stopped (regarding human interactions).

When I know that I have to have a difficult conversation with someone, I try to anticipate how my side will be appreciated. I try to think of many sides, many outcomes. Most of the time, I’m pretty accurate. Sometimes I couldn’t be more wrong. Indulge me for a moment regarding the bullying episode this past spring.  Our approach to this dilemma was bonded with honor and love (as much as was possible given the situation) but absolutely with respect.

We attempted to handle it in a way that would be rational. In fact, we handled it in a way that was suggested by three separate school counselors (including the bully’s own school counselor who reached out to my husband to intervene). It was a disaster. We really had no idea the situation would go as badly as it ultimately did. I mean, I could’ve never predicted that.

So it happened.

The choices the other family made were successively colossal in their failures. To me, they were steeped in fear, judgment and anger. It’s ironic, because we were the ones who were attacked. You’d think we were the ones who would be fearful, judgmental and angry. But we weren’t. We trusted.

Anyway, as much as it’s water under the bridge, it’s a really great illustration point for many of these quotes I’ve been dissecting.

The choices we make will absolutely affect the world in ways we will never know. (Beware the ego trap of also thinking you can influence any outcome too — this quote suggests you can, but c’mon… keep your head on straight.)

In practice:

Be nice to the man who pumps your gas. Smile at him and say thanks. Maybe that will keep him from getting angry at the next customer* who might then feel safer on the road after leaving the station.

Choose to take a breath before sharing what’s on your mind with your partner if it’s heavy. That breath can be the difference between a disagreement or a resolution.

Put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Offer assistance to the exhausted mother of three. Hold the door open for her, walk slowly around her so her children stay close to her so her mind can be at ease.

Say a silent blessing to the homeless man on the corner, remember how much your stomach hurt the last time you were really hungry. Buy him a sandwich… (My brother does this: he doesn’t give homeless people money, he asks them what they need: shoes, food, clothes… and then he gets it for them.)

Don’t yell at the driver who just cut you off. Maybe *she just found out her child fell down the steps and is on the way to the hospital. (See? It’s all related, even if it seems like it isn’t.)

Remember that you’re NOT the only person on this planet.

All of these conscious actions require is the simple act of slowing down, noticing, interpreting and executing.

Just slow down. What’s the rush? Be nice. Take a breath. Don’t react. Think first.

Thank you.

 

Whatcha Think, Smahtypants?

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