The Butterfly Effect

June 11, 2015

by Ravi Raman

I hope that this article inspires you to commit to a small positive action in your life. As hard as it might be to believe, it is these seemingly inconsequential steps that hold the key to unlocking a much brighter and bigger future for you, your community and the world.

If this seems far-fetched, hold your judgement until the end of this blog post and see if you are still skeptical.

I truly believe that small positive acts, like going for a walk, helping a friend in need, saving money instead of spending frivolously, eating something healthy every day, drinking plenty of water, meditating…these small behaviors, when done consistently, can completely transform your quality of life.

“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.” - John Muir

“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.” – John Muir

My Little Running Habit

Lately I’ve witnessed this myself with my recently renewed habit of going for daily runs. I used to be a hardcore ultra-marathoner, but up until a month ago, I would mostly just hike around and lift weights for exercise.

I had a successful finish at the 2015 Boulder Boulder 10K in Boulder, CO.

I had a successful finish at the 2015 Boulder Boulder 10K in Boulder, CO.

Then I realized how much I missed running. I missed the wind in my hair and getting outside to sweat under the beating sun. So I started running again, eventually building up to a 3.5 mile loop around the town I live in, Golden, Colorado in the USA. I’ve been doing this for about a month.

Something miraculous has happened since I started running every day. I’ve lost a little weight, sure, but I’ve also noticed the following: I’ve slept better, I’ve had the desire to go to bed on time and wake up on time, my diet has been more clean, I’ve been drinking more water, I am more focused on my work and taking action on things I’ve put off for quite a while.

How can a little running habit create all this positive collateral benefit?

I believe that every little action, and the intent behind those actions, are in some way linked up. When you exhibit positive intent towards one area of your life, it will inevitably bleed over into others. I have no proof for this, but in my own life it holds true!

It’s akin to something called the Butterfly Effect.

The Butterfly Effect

Image by Andy Andrews.

Image by Andy Andrews.

The Butterfly Effect was initially used to describe the potential for radically changing the weather forecasts based on seemingly inconsequential rounding of input variables. Subtle changes that shouldn’t cause a big shift, suddenly do when thrown into a complex forecasting model.

The Butterfly Effect, or the fact that small changes in an initial state can result in big impacts down the road, shows up in many places in life. We can acknowledge this crazy fact and use it as leverage to create any positive change.

Here is one surprising way in which the Butterfly Effect shows up: Did you know that wolves changes the course of rivers in Yellowstone?

Wolves Changing The Course Of Rivers

In nature, there is a term called “Trophic Cascades”. This refers to the connection between predators, prey and the ecosystems in which they live. Trophic Cascades are heavily impacted by the over or under-functioning of any individual item in the hierarchy of nature.

In Yellowstone, something fascinating happened with the reintroduction of Wolves into the environment, after years of government supported mass Wolf extermination in the 1940s. It is here we can see the Trophic Cascades at work.

Wolves were reintroduced in Yellowstone National Park in 1995. At that time, there was significant overpopulation of Elk and overgrazing of river banks. When the Wolves came back, there was a big shift in behavior of the Elk and deer. As these animals changed their grazing behaviors and patterns, the behavior of other animals also changed. Ravens, Eagles, Coyotes and Bears all adapted to the presence of wolves and the movement of the Elk.

Shrubs and trees grew taller by the river banks as the grazing animals moved into the higher mountains to avoid falling prey to the Wolves. Trees previously stunted or grazed to a low height, suddenly were free to grow free and tall. Bushes filled with berries sprang up everywhere under the shelter of the trees. With more berries, came more Bears!

What is most astonishing, is that the regenerated forests provided massive support to the river banks. Beavers returned and began to build more dams and in turn, the layout and flow of the rivers themselves changed! Would you ever imagine that in less than 20 years, the reintroduction of Wolves would change the course of rivers in Yellowstone?

Watch this video and prepare to be amazed:

What The Butterfly Effect Means For You

Next time you want to make a radical change in your life, focus on the small and seemingly inconsequential things that move you slowly in your desired positive direction. Commit to those small things until they become habits.

Then watch and see how your life begins to take a drastic turn for the better over time!

You never know where a small action will lead.

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