The Domino Effect

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A recent advertisement for car insurance outlined what I think of as “the Domino Effect.” The person in the car crash needed to borrow a car, which meant the person who loaned it didn’t have their car and had to borrow one from someone else. That person had to cancel an appointment, which meant that the person having the appointment with them was inconvenienced, and so on. In life, our actions affect others’ lives. We often don’t like to think about it because as I outline in Secret #1, “it’s all about me.” When we make a decision in our lives – about anything – it’s rare that we think about how it will impact someone else.

But our actions every day DO have a Domino Effect. If I am in a bad mood and speak unkindly to the person behind the register at the supermarket, that cashier might speak more sternly to the next customer and impact their day negatively. If I ignore a co-worker because I am thinking about something pertinent to my life, that co-worker might react badly and feel their “day is ruined” and take it out on their family at home. If I write a nasty retort anonymously to something I read online, and someone else misinterprets it, the reader might feel they need to respond negatively as well and create a cycle of negative comments.

Now, we are all responsible for our actions – and reactions. If my co-worker is rude to me, I don’t have to react rudely to the next person. People who are self-aware and acting in the Interested Observer role can often look past the way someone speaks to them or reacts toward them. But many people simply respond and react and don’t realize how the interaction affects them – and how they carry it forward.

If I am tired, or in a bad mood, or having a bad day or upset about something, oftentimes the world I see is colored by these bad feelings. I don’t think much about how my actions, in response to these bad feelings, might impact someone else. The truth is that when I feel badly, I don’t care whether it impacts someone else or not. Some people actually like to make others miserable when they are feeling miserable!

But think about how the Domino Effect can have an impact – for better and for worse – all around you. The idea of a random act of kindness being carried forth is a very positive one. Doing something nice for someone, treating them with respect, looking outside of your own bad feelings and making a decision not to act on them can have a powerful positive Domino Effect as it ripples through the world. Most times we never know how the seeds we plant are turning out all around us, but if we commit to plant more positive, hopeful and compassionate seeds most of the time, we know that the ripple effect from them is bound to be overall more positive.

Life is about choices, and sometimes the right choice is to make a conscious decision not to carry a bad feeling or bad reaction forward. Sometimes the right choice is to put aside my negative feelings and choose to impact others in a positive way. It takes focus and it takes energy, so we have to commit to be willing to do it – but think about the ripples that would travel throughout the world if most people committed to do this on a daily basis.

Today, think about the Domino Effect and how powerful you alone can be to topple the dominos for good – and not so good.

---Beverly Flaxington

Author, Understanding Other People

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