"Each decision we make, each action we take, is born out of an intention." - Sharon Salzberg
It never ceases to amaze me how much everything matters. To say that all things are interconnected is an understatement. Really, everything you do, say and think is part of the whole. The way you choose to be in life affects not only yourself, but everyone and everything else.
This is a powerful teaching that invites each of us to take full responsibility for the choices we make. Even the tiniest ones have a ripple effect. Do you act from fear or from love? Are you in resistance to or aligned with life?
Answer these questions truthfully, and you will begin to understand the practical significance of your day-to-day choices.
The Ripple Effect
A friend of mine manages a restaurant where the chef is a tough, controlling character. He forces the orders to be prepared in a certain sequence even though it doesn't make sense, then prevents the kitchen staff from speaking to one another to coordinate. This leaves all eight food preparers frustrated -- and shaking in their boots in response to his angry outbursts.
See the ripple effect? One person's actions cause low morale in eight people who undoubtedly take their work stress home -- let alone the servers, the management and the restaurant patrons waiting for their food. Then the effect on everyone they come into contact with... and on and on it goes.
There must be a better way.
One recent morning, I stopped at a diner for breakfast. I was greeted by a lovely Indian man who literally bowed to me in greeting, and I was served by a waiter just oozing with sweetness. I left with my heart singing, and now you are the fortunate recipient of their kindheartedness coming through me. May it ripple out everywhere.
What is amazing is that being a bully or an angel is under your control. Your starting point may be a place of irritation or hopelessness. You might be absorbed in self-pity or terrified to connect.
Be inspired to know that transformation is always possible.
Once you understand that what you think, say and do matters, you can become meticulous about the choices you make in any moment.
What About Your Ripple?
Begin by contemplating the ripples that flow out from you.
- Are your thoughts kind or filled with judgment -- toward yourself or others?
- Are you considerate in your actions?
- Are you aware -- or are you moving too fast to choose wisely?
- Do you appreciate what is right in front of you -- or are you preoccupied by worries and problems?
I spoke with a 94-year-old woman recently who told me she is ready to die. She looks back on a life well-lived, feeling satisfied and content. She is at peace.
I know I don't want to be on my deathbed with doubts and regrets, and I imagine you don't either. The moment you have is this one, and the potential impact of your choices -- every single one of them -- is enormous.
Live Your Lovely Life
You can't help but be part of the whole. This is not only your life that we're talking about. How you speak to your loved ones, the energy you bring when you walk into a room, how you spend your down time -- it all matters. The impact is far-reaching, and it starts with you.
If you're stuck in being reactive, if you find it difficult to make choices that are beneficial in any area of your life, then commit to doing the work that opens your heart. You will love yourself for it.
- Discover what habits are in the way, and let them begin to unravel.
- Deal with the pain from your past so you can be free of it.
- Make a point of being aware, even in the hardest of situations.
- Get the help you need so you can live your lovely life.
When you truly understand the power of all your choices, what do you choose?
What About You?
What ripples are you creating? What gets in the way of being kind and compassionate? Let's start an open conversation about what's hard. Please feel free to share in the comments.