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What if… we create ripples of kindness?

Cartoon image of a smiling white ghost-like figure surrounded by yellow stars against a dark blue sky

I’m delighted to re-start the kindness guest blogs with this one from compassionate therapist, Phil Gowler, about the ripples of kindness he sees in the world. Little acts add up to something much bigger than the sum of their parts.

Kindness and Quantum

Wow, doesn’t that title sound pretentious? Here I am, preening myself at my computer screen because I’ve used the word ‘quantum’. Then I’ve added it to ‘kindness’ to create ‘Kindness and Quantum’, which seems to put two very different terms together.

At this point you may be thinking that this blog is going to delve into complex terminology and weird concepts, but that’s not going to happen.

So stick with it.

Ripples across the world

Going back half a century or so, an MIT Professor of Meteorology discovered what he called the Butterfly Effect. What it means is that an infinitesimally small action can ripple out into the world and have huge consequences.

So, in theory, a butterfly flapping its wings in the Amazonian jungle can influence weather patterns in Droitwich. (Of course, the professor didn’t say Droitwich. He’d probably never heard of it. I just added it for fun.)

Before you snort with derision, let me get back to kindness and introduce you to the Ripple Effect. This one is all mine, and I might copyright it.

So, with the Ripple Effect, one small kind act makes the receiver a little happier, and, knowing how that small, effortless kindness made them feel, they do the same for someone else, and so on. See? The Ripple Effect.

Now this ripple could just stay very local, but maybe it doesn’t. Maybe, one of the receivers of kindness is just passing through, and so when they choose to do their kind act, they could be miles away.

In another city maybe.

Perhaps they were on their way to Heathrow, so their kind act stays with a passenger on an international flight who repeats it in another country.

I see this ripple effect in the world around me and it always gladdens my heart.

Traffic impact

So, it’s rush hour and school run time. You’re in your car on your way to work, but you can’t get onto the main road from your street, because it’s just too busy. You can feel the stress building inside you. You’re starting to clench your jaw and grip the steering wheel harder. You start mumbling under your breath.

But then, one kind person stops and lets you out.

Doesn’t it feel good when that happens?

You smile, you wave and your stress slips away. As a result you let someone else out further down the road. And then they do the same, and before you know it, quite a few people are turning up at work a little happier today.

Kindness in healthcare

I had quite a major operation recently and I was very worried about it. So I talked to the surgical team when they did their rounds and when they came to take me down to theatre, the whole team did their utmost to put me at ease.

And it worked.

I went under quite relaxed and confident that I would come out the other side fit and well, which I did. I am certain that I recovered well and quite quickly because they had made such an effort to help me.

I repaid them by sending my thanks to them and to the team they were part of. Hopefully that made them smile and lifted them a little so they would continue working to a high standard, knowing that they were appreciated.

One kind act a day

Now, let’s imagine what could be possible if everyone were to perform one small kind act on the same day. Our ripples of kindness wouldn’t dissipate around the world, they would combine, grow stronger and instead flood the world with kindness.

That’s sort of quantum, isn’t it?

Phil Gowler is a tutor, author and compassionate therapist, based in Woodley. You can find him at

Image thanks to the Guild of Energists

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