The Butterfly Effect: Pay It Forward

The Butterfly Effect

In 1963 mathematician and meteorologist Edward Lorenz presented to the New York Academy of Sciences a theory that said:                     blue butterfly

A butterfly could flap its wings and set molecules of air in motion, which would move other molecules of air, in turn moving more molecules of air- eventually capable of starting a hurricane on the other side of the world. His ideas were scoffed at and ridiculed for decades. But then 30 years later scientists came to the conclusion that it was accurate and viable.

The same theory applies to the decisions or actions we take now, no matter how small they are. What we think and do matters and plays a huge role in determining the quality  of our lives and the lives of others. We all have a tremendous sphere of influence; family, friends community, co-workers. We have no idea what our impact can have on other people – just smiling  or saying have a great day may start a personal transformation for some people.

This is why Gandhi’s famous quote Be the change you want to see in the world,” is so effective. It shows how one decision to change our personal world can end up inspiring others to do the same.

I am writing today because I just finished delivering holiday cookies to the library. There is a homeless man that sits there every day reading. I brought him a Jewel card. He said thanks and are you the lady who gave me one this summer in the park? I said yes. He said I hope you aren’t mad but I used part of it to buy treats for the other dogs in the park. I said it was a gift you can do anything you want with it. He paid it forward…a man who lives on the streets.

Then I actually sat down and talked with him for fifteen minutes. He is well read and just finished reading Abraham Herschel’s book The Sabbath  and Kaplan’s The History of  Jewish Civilization. I asked him why you don’t go somewhere warmer in the winter. He teared up and said this has been my family home since 1911. I am the last person alive. He told me he gets so mad when people say move to a community with more services for your kind. He said this is one of the wealthiest communities, why go to a poorer area and take from their meager resources. He gave me much to consider. I walked away from our encounter changed. He gave me  the gift.

                                     man and ripple

 This Is A Call To Action.

Pay It Forward.

 A kind word, a smile, a conversation with a lonely person is a gift to yourself.



Rae Luskin is the author of Art From My Heart and coming soon Stuck to Unstoppable: Unleash Your Passion, Purpose and Possibilities.

Tags: pay it forward, butterfly effect, compassion, kindness, legacy


  1. I love this article Rae and Paying it Forward is such a lovely thing to do. I have also been spending time with the homeless and their insight and wisdom is amazing. Many of our homeless are aboriginal and they say that they prefer to be street people because that’s where all their friends are. They prefer to wander just as their ancestors did. Many people feel sorry for the homeless but I think in many ways they are happier than some people who have everything.

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