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Small Shift—Big Results

Many, many moons ago, I learned a dice game called Farkel. Rolling five (or is it 6?) dice at a time, you can continue to roll and add up points as long as you don’t…farkel. That is, roll without scoring anything at all. The trick is to know when to stop. I sucked at this game. I was always going for the big score that would catch me up and make me an instant winner. The woman who won all the time was the one who stopped with more mediocre gains. Being young and brash (another word for stupid), I thought that was a boring way to play. Nevertheless, her example stuck in my mind and through the years, as I’ve pondered her wisdom-by-example, I’ve come to appreciate the power of a small gesture.

Some physicist, somewhere, at sometime (I swear it’s true!), referring to the connectedness of everything, said that a butterfly flapping it’s wings on one side of the planet can cause a cyclone on the other side. I know from personal experience that changing one small habit or routine in your life can lead to huge changes in your health, wealth, or happiness.

Want to try it? It’s more challenging then you think. Small change doesn’t come with hoopla, fanfare, or adrenaline rushes. They are so small, they don’t incur much notice in your life. We like hoopla, fanfare and adrenaline rushes, i.e. soap operas. Try it once, though, as see what happens.

Before you take on the challenge, identify the areas of your life you’d like to see change such as increase your finances, lose weight, improve your health or relationships, etc. Write down several intentions or goals that you have for those areas. Put away the intentions and forget about them for a while.

Next choose something small to change (see the list below for ideas). Choose just one thing. In general, switch any mental distraction for a physical activity. Switch a not-so-great physical habit with a better physical activity or a learning mental activity. Then commit to NOT doing the small thing for 21 days. For the first week or so, you’ll need to substitute some other activity to fill up the “void” but after that let yourself be spontaneous about what you do instead.

Here are some ideas of small changes followed by suggested replacement activities. For the next 21 days…

  1. Stop drinking coffee first thing in the morning. Instead stretch for 5 minutes then walk for 5 minutes. Don’t think about anything but enjoying the day.
  2. Stop watching, listening to, or reading the news. (Trust me, if something really important happens, you’ll hear about it). If you can’t do it for the whole day, just stop at nighttime. Instead play a game, clean a closet, listen to classical music.
  3. Stop watching TV at night. Go to bed one hour earlier than normal.
  4. Limit all non-work-related phone calls to 5 minutes. Write a letter in longhand.
  5. Don’t surf the internet without a specific purpose. Watch the sky (sunset, stars, moon, etc.)
  6. Don’t shop. Volunteer in your community.
  7. Cut out one food that you eat a lot that doesn’t have much nutritive value. Eat a salad 15 minutes before lunch and dinner.
  8. Stop buying the same widget you buy again and again when standing at the cash register (pens, Altoids, magazine, gum). Learn a new word from the dictionary.
  9. Check/answer emails only once a day. Clean a desk drawer.
  10. Keep all clutter off every surface in your house. (That’s a combined “don’t” and “do”).

Okay, hopefully you’re beginning to get the idea. For 21 days stop doing the small thing that wastes time, money, and mental resources and substitute new positive activity. Don’t pay too much attention to anything else. At the end of 21 days take out your list of intentions that you created. Now observe…what’s shifted and changed?

I think you’ll find you just experienced your own butterfly effect.

Share your butterfly effect…add a comment!

Copyright © 2007 gia combs-ramirez. All rights reserved.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • good stuff. thanks. the butterfly effect is the time honoured illustration of chaos theory which to my delight holds that things forms, objects, remain the same only the scale changes. the idea of scalar change is central to my notion of shamanism and other new age past times

  • Phil, I just sneezed. Did you get a hurricane in Florida?