Is the Butterfly Effect Real?

(What happened when I changed one thing…)

butterfly_on_a_rose_196573Remember the 2004 movie, The Butterfly Effect, starring Ashton Kutcher? True confession: I didn’t see it. But the all media talk about it did introduce me to the chaos theory of the same name. Here’s a simplified explanation of The Butterfly Effect:

” ..even the smallest of occurrences, such as the flutter of a butterfly’s wings, can ultimately cause a typhoon halfway around the world. This means that every action you take, and every choice you make, has a consequence…”

Science isn’t my specialty. I will leave it to the experts to explain the truth and complexities of chaos theory. But my personal experience is this: when I make one change, I can create different results. This actually happened to me today…

The new “think” that made the difference

When I started writing this post, I went to type “change one thing”, but accidently typed “think” instead. That caught my attention.

Because when I choose to change how I think about something, my subsequent behavior changes, too. And that starts a sequence that produces different outcomes.

Case in point: I’ve been working on a big project for the last few weeks. It’s due tomorrow. So close! But earlier today, with the deadline rushing towards me, I went into major stress mode, which for me looks like:

Tightness and tension in my shoulders.

Mind leap-frogging from one to-do item to the next.

Worry fogging my thinking and slowing my progress.

I decided I needed a cup of tea. And of course, I’d need some kind of comfort food to go along with it! As I headed towards the kitchen, I thought to myself:

“Is this really what I need to calm myself down and get my focus back? What would happen if I did something else instead?”

The outdoors beckoned. I slipped into my flip flops and headed out the door. I soaked in the sunlight and took three deep breaths, raising my arms to the sky. Then I started walking, feeling grounded by the steady rhythm of my sandals tapping against my feet.

I noticed the June-green trees, vibrant against the blue summer sky; the smell of my neighbors freshly cut grass; and the songs of the birds chirping in different keys.

I felt a sense of gratitude wash over me. I was thankful for nature’s beauty, the rightness of the moment and the peace of being really present to enjoy it. The stress of the project, the deadline and wanting it to be perfect, started to melt away.

I still have lots of work to do, but now I’m approaching it with a sense of calm, clarity and confidence. My project will get done. And I’ve released the (self-imposed) burden of endlessly seeking to make it “just right”.

One choice. One change. Big difference!

Finding your butterfly wings

Is there a person, project or situation that’s causing stress in your life right now? Do the same thoughts about it keep cycling through your mind and lead to default behaviors that haven’t worked well for you in the past?

Don’t feel bad – this happens to all of us! The good news is, you have the power to create a new  ending to this story. Here’s how.

  1. Pick one area of your life where you’d like something to be different. It could be communicating more effectively with your boss, sticking to your fitness routine or making time for meditation every day.
  2. Notice when you are about to make a decision or take your next action regarding this situation. Is your first instinct to argue with your boss, skip the gym or postpone your meditation?
  3. Hit the pause button and ask yourself what you could do differently instead. Then try it! See if one small change breaks the old pattern and sets you in flight towards happier outcomes.

I’d love to hear what happens! Post a comment and let me know.

Until next time…


2 thoughts on “Is the Butterfly Effect Real?

  1. Glad you are finding your wings and heading away from old patterns that don’t serve you. Well done, Terry!

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