The Ripple Effect April 29th, 2011
Pay it Forward was a simply horrible movie. So I sort of cringe to broach this topic because discussions of this nature always remind me of that movie and, well, make me cringe. Nevertheless I came across this piece on The Huffington Post last night and it caught my attention.
Author David Nichtern points out that one of the hallmark tenets if Buddhism is the belief in the ripple effect. That is, that there is a relationship between cause and effect, and that we can exert our influence over the happenings in our lives by taking actions that bring about certain reactions. He comments:
If we manifest grasping, aggression and ignorance in the smallest details of our interaction with others, these energies gather power and strength like an avalanche. If we lace our smallest exchanges with awareness, courtesy, consideration and compassion, we can create a ripple effect with a different outcome.
Nichtern goes on to point out that adding such awareness and compassion to our interactions with others are really just the basic elements of common courtesy. And I think that common courtesy is far too often overlooked. Call me old fashioned (and in some ways I am), but it seems to me sometimes that the world has gotten big enough that we believe we can afford to abandon common courtesy. If we step on someone’s toes today we may not ever see that person again, so why not just look out for ourselves? Perhaps we can get away with this approach for a while, but I don’t think it sounds like a very satisfying way to live.
So, in the interest of keeping this post brief, I will part with this thought: do something courteous today. Do something nice for someone who didn’t ask for it. It doesn’t have to be anonymous. It doesn’t have to be significant. Hold a door. Offer someone change for the vending machine. Let the person in a hurry take the taxi you just hailed. Or whatever other opportunity avails itself to you. I highly doubt you’ll regret it. And it might just circle back to you.