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We naturally underestimate the power of our actions

The subjective nature of our minds will have us think that we have a pretty firm grip on how the world around us works. We have this picture in our heads that is tinkered with now and then, but for most of the time it remains constant.This allows us to be assured in our predictions as well as judgement and it gives us the confidence to envision a future and then try to pull the present forward to meet it. This is the nature of the mind, it seems to focus and apply meaning to that which is most important to us, while the things in the background are left in the dark.

The problem is however that as one looks deeper into  the assumingly shallow activities of their everyday life, they soon realize that the impacts of their actions aren’t as simple and as easy to predict as they would have liked. This is because one cannot simply have absolute control over their actions or causes in a highly dynamic environment. Cause and effect is not a linear process, rather it is a lot more complex, as a cause can lead to multiple effects, which in turn become causes for many other effects, thus setting into motion a wave of influence that, over time, spreads itself throughout the environment.

This is called Chaos Theory, scientifically defined as the theory where small changes in initial conditions can lead to vast changes in the final outcome. I personally don’t agree with the second part of this statement as to me the effects of a cause might diminish to a certain extent but I don’t believe they ever stop causing further effects and thus can’t actually reach a final outcome. The point of this post however is not to argue the theory but rather just to put into perspective the idea that the effects of the actions we cause are incredibly more complex than we initially imagine.

Edward Lorenz used a great example to describe the impact of Chaos theory, which he coined The Butterfly Effect. The example explains that a single flap of a butterfly’s wings in a South American jungle can lead to a hurricane months later in the middle of the United States. The example is of course highly unlikely, but at the same time cannot be ruled out in reality, Mind blowing.

The biggest realization for me is that our actions are so much more powerful than we tend to imagine. We are only consciously aware of a small portion of the effects we cause. Upon this understanding, it becomes evident to me that we should try to act with sincerity and positive intentions as often as we can and not simply act because of some initial gain that we would like to receive/see from the action.

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One Comment Post a comment
  1. caron #

    good food for thought! Thanks

    May 2, 2013

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