Just as ripples spread out when a single pebble is dropped into water, the actions of individuals can have far-reaching effects. – Dalai Lama
What does that mean?
I like this quote, because I have seen it in action. It says that when we do something, there are consequences. These consequences spread like the ripples from a small stone dropped into water.
Who knows what these ripples will do. Have you ever been at a fork in the road, and been unable (or unwilling) to chose between them? I know that I certainly have.
And then, something happens, usually something small, and you select one option over the other. You have been hit by a ripple from a stone dropped by another.
Your actions also cause ripples. How have your actions had an impact on those around you, those you know? And how many other people you may only have briefly met?
These are the far-reaching consequences. Something you did may be related to a friend who relates it to another, and pretty soon, your ripples are on another continent. But are they beneficial ripples?
Why is being a positive influence important?
Can you think of a time in your childhood when when you saw someone do something, and it stuck with you all these years? Is that a ripple, probably unintentional, which had a far-reaching effect?
Was it a positive or a negative influence on you? Was it something which caused you to want to do that when you grew up, or was it something you wished to avoid?
Now turn it around. How many things have you done, which others may have seen, and therefore been influenced? Were those influences positive or negative?
If you could do it over again, would you have done it, knowing someone was watching and being influenced? Does that tell you something about yourself and the actions you took?
What of the positive influences you have had? If you could know how they have impacted the lives of others, would you do them more often? Why or why not, can you come up with reasons?
Where can I apply this in my life?
I have two stories of ripples I want to share with you. The first I don’t remember, as I was a baby, just able to crawl. The other was much more recently, and was a direct reflection of this quote.
I had seen my parents and some guests smoking the night before, so I was going to the ash trays to find the things they had been eating, and get some of that.
My mom saw that and was so disgusted that she quit smoking that day. Nearly everyone she told the story to was influenced by the story. For some, it may have been the ripple that caused them to make a decision.
The other story is about my days as a Motorcycle Safety Instructor. A guy who had been in one of my classes told me of a discussion with a friend where they had discussed what he had learned.
He said the friend came back a few weeks later and told him of a situation where the information had helped him avoid a wreck. That is a ripple of which I was very proud of which to have been a part.
What kind of example do you usually present? Who might be observing you, and how might you be influencing them? What are some of your habits, and what kind of ripples do they tend to make?
Have you ever thought of yourself as a role model? Even if you aren’t usually considered as such, you will still have some influence on others. How will they react to what you do?
Knowing that some will be influenced by your actions, if even by a little bit, what might you change in your behavior? Of what might you do less, and of what might you do more?
We all have influence. Some are examples to which we look up. Others are examples of what not to do. I would imagine most of us fall somewhere between these extremes.
What are you, and how are you perceived by those around you? How far do your ripples go, and what are you willing to do to make sure those who are influenced by you are influenced in a positive way?
It’s your call, it’s your life. But those ripples impact us all. The pond of humanity encompasses us all. Please be careful of your actions.