About six months ago I wrote a blogpost "Spread a Little Happiness". It was birthed from my experience of living in Switzerland where people are really friendly and always greeting each other as they walk by, even strangers. And where you're always welcomed into a shop by whichever employee may be near you.
When I returned to my birth country of Northern Ireland I felt the whole congeniality, the friendliness, the warmth that is synonymous with Irish people, had dampened a bit.
But as I was fresh off the plane and had been submersed in the Swiss culture of friendliness, it felt natural to me to greet people as I walked by. So when I walked into a shop I'd say 'hello' to whoever might hear me. When my parents and I went for an evening walk, I'd smile and say hello to anyone who passed us.
In most instances, people responded positively, returning the smile and saying 'hello' back. In some instances people looked visibly shocked and unsure how to react. But because it made me feel good and I could see it made others feel good too, I continued to say hello.
Six months on and I returned to visit my family again in Northern Ireland and I noticed a real difference.
This time as we went out walking in the evening, the majority of people we passed would look at us, smile and say hello... this time I was not always the instigator.
It really felt like the atmosphere had changed, for the better. It really felt like the warmth and openess of the Irish had returned.
Now I'm not trying to blow my own trumpet and claim that I changed people in Northern Ireland, but what if I may have given them a little nudge six months ago?
What if my ripple had touched the hearts of those I met and they continued to share that ripple on to others?
Can you see how one small act by one individual person can have a knock-on effect in a short period of time?
Our world is in turmoil at present. We seem to be on a trail of destruction among ourselves, with the animals we share this planet with, and with Mother Nature herself. And often we think we aren't big enough or powerful enough on our own to make the impact that's needed to change things for the better... so we do nothing because it's just all too overwhelming.
But what if we created a ripple effect?
What if we chose one small action which impacted those who cross our path? And, they in turn, feeling the benefit of that action pass it on and our little ripple begins to grow?
A simple smile and a 'hello' can have the power of changing someone. When you smile at someone their face lights up, they feel good, they feel connected and they can't help but smile back. When you greet them with a 'hello', in most occasions they'll return the greeting to you. And you've made a connection. You've not only raised your vibration but that of the other person too. And so, with a higer vibration, they'll want to instinctively raise someone else's vibration and will, most probably, smile and say hello to the next person they reach, and on and on it continues.
You may think that a smile and a 'hello' can't change the world because it's just too small and simple but I'm telling you it can.
All our actions, all our thoughts, all our words come from one of two places. They come from love or they come from fear... there is no in between. Love has a high and positive vibration whereas fear has a low and negative vibration. Destruction, hurt, anger, violence... they're all actions and emotions that result directly from fear. Whereas restoration, creativity, respect, kindness... they're all actions and emotions that result from love.
When we look at how we, as a collective, treat our fellow humans, the sentient non-human animals we live alongside, and even our planet and see the negative impact we're having, we're looking at actions, thoughts, beliefs that have been born out of fear. To turn things around all we need is to come from a place of love. Because when we come from a place of love, we choose options that naturally support and uplift those around us, options that are restorative and creative, and which spread kindness.
A smile and 'hello' makes both the giver and the receiver that little bit happier. And when you feel happy you want to continue to feel happy, so you continue to spread the ripple effect. As your happiness expands and grows, so your choices will change and become ones associated with love: you may choose to eat less meat, you may choose to buy loose fruit and veg rather than those wrapped in plastic, you may choose to leave water out for animals visiting your garden on a warm day, you may choose to pick up a piece of trash and carry it to the next closest bin.
The changes don't have to big, they don't have to be overwhelming. Just as a simple smile and 'hello' have rippled through you and encouraged you to make small changes, so they will ripple through those you touch with your smile and 'hello'.
Can you imagine how that would look multiplied by 100, by 1,000, by 10,000, by 100,000,000?
A smile and 'hello' may seem small and insignificant when you don't see the full picture, when you don't consider the ripple effect but as the Dalai Lama so eloquently said "If you think you're too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito".