I believe I have the power to change the world. In less bold terms, I believe in the ripple effect. As you hear those words, do you envision a stone tossed into a lake? Those tiny waves are transferred energy, and I possess that energy. One morning as I got into my car, I noticed a tire low on air. I drove to a nearby service station, found the air supply hose, attached it to the tire nozzle and began to fill. Suddenly I noticed a man standing close by, watching me. My guard went up as approached, and as I turned to him with a probably less-than-approachable expression on my face, there he stood with a tire gauge in his hand. He spoke gruffly, but he wanted to help me, which he did. As I drove on, I felt an emotion I can only describe as love for my fellow man. Silly? Perhaps, but this little incident stuck with me, and it taught me a valuable lesson. With his simple act, this man made my day. How great is that? With a small gesture of kindness, he wielded his power to great affect. Of course, I’ve experienced negative run-ins with strangers as well, but those incidents are vague recollections compared to this particular memory. Without question, plain kindness is more powerful than any level of rudeness. I see it in my personal relationships, too. If things are not going well for me one day when my husband comes home, no matter how he felt before he opened that door, if I choose to, I can pull him down right with me. My kids would feel it, too. It doesn’t take much to muster up a smile, and by doing so I’ve helped my whole family. In daily life, each time I treat a service worker with gratitude and respect or extend a courtesy to another driver, I make a peaceful connection with another human being. I believe I’ve made that person feel good, if only for a moment, and she most likely will do the same. I’m not always kind, but I certainly make every effort to be. Maybe these little ripples of respect and grace and charity are just a drop in the ocean, but the principle of compounding holds true. Kindness is a wonderful power to possess. If I can generate it in everyday life, even just a little, I have made the world a better place.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.