Lately I can’t help but notice all of the negativity that seems to be swirling about in the United States regarding the recent presidential election. Some are happy with the outcome, but many are a bit worried and disgruntled. Obviously this will be the case with every election as it is impossible to please everyone. However, this election has had a completely different “feel” to it compared to all of the other elections that I have experienced in the past. It seems as if there is this intense sense of fear amongst people, fear of what is to come of our country, and the impact that it will have on society as well as each of our individual lives.
I can’t pretend for even a second that I know anything substantial about politics, and I deliberately avoid political discussions with people as it typically leads to a dead end, both parties leaving the conversation more heated and frustrated than when the conversation began. Discussing politics is often like discussing religious views or nutrition preferences with people, it tends to get heated quickly. When it comes to the recent political landscape in America, my viewpoint is fueled only by what I hear on the news, on social media, and from the few of those in my life that have shared their opinion with me. The common theme that has emerged from all of this is negativity and doubt about the future.
I’m not agreeing or disagreeing with anything, nor am I trying to convince anyone of anything from a political perspective. However, I do have one stance on this “issue,” and that is something that I like to call the ripple effect, or simply the effect that individual actions have collectively on society. When I look past all of the negativity that seems to be forming around this country on a macroscopic level, I see a country that is molded and shaped by each and every individual that occupies this wonderful place full of freedom and opportunity, even though these foundational components of American life aren’t dispersed equally just yet amongst all of its citizens.
I think the message that I am trying to get across is that, despite what might be happening above us on a level that is beyond our control, we all have a choice every single day to help make this country, and the world for that matter, a better place than it was the day before. This type of positive action comes in so many different forms, and each individual action ripples outward, creating more positivity in the lives of others. This ripple continues outward, spreading exponentially as more and more positive, productive, individual actions begin to accumulate.
I see this effect in action every single day of my life. I see it with the work I am involved with at Arizona State. The research that I am involved with positively impacting the lives of so many people that we reach, with this positive outflow of energy seeping into others’ lives amongst those that we reach. I see it in the triathlon and cycling communities that I am involved with. The positive actions of so many individuals, ranging in type from volunteer work to a simple pat on the back for accomplishing a new feat or setting a new PR, affecting the lives of so many people in a positive way. I have been impacted by the actions of others in so many ways, and I am a much better, happier person because of it. My improved self then going out into the world with more vigor and energy to help improve the lives of others, causing the ripple to continue moving outward.
It's infectious, the positivity and happiness of others; it truly is. It’s why I choose to surround myself with so many amazing people and aim to be a part of communities of people that are doing amazing things. And honestly, positive change all starts with people simply doing what they love to do, or doing small, random acts of kindness. It doesn’t take a monumental effort or a feat of pure amazingness (pretty sure I made this word up) to truly make a difference in someone’s life. Just be you.
So get out there and do what it is that you love to do, pursue your dreams and you will show others that their dreams are worth chasing as well. Choose to do the right thing and others will follow. Choose to think positively about yourself and others will catch on. Make a difference in just one life and this difference will spread onwards to countless others through the momentum that you generated. Do something small and it will spread into something much bigger. Stand up for what you believe in and challenge conventional wisdom. Believe in the good in people and this attitude will spread like wildfire. Do it all from a place of love for yourself and for society, and do it just one act at a time. If there is anything that we, as individuals, have control over, it is our individual actions, regardless of external circumstances.