Tiny yet Titanic: The Butterfly Effect in Psychological Well-Being

You’ve likely heard of the Butterfly Effect. It’s the notion that, because of how everything in the natural world is interconnected and deterministic (as some would like to argue), a butterfly’s flapping its wings in, say, Sydney, could ultimately result in a hurricane in, say, the Gulf of Mexico. Sure, that flap of its wings is an infinitesimally miniscule act on the grand scheme of the global climate; but, because of how those few atoms are shifted by the flap of a pair of wings, those atoms then shift other atoms, which shift other atoms, and so on and so forth, until just enough of the right atoms have been shifted in order to tip the meteorological conditions over then edge into producing a hurricane. Small act; big consequences. And rather negative ones at that. But who’s to say that the consequences couldn’t have been positive instead (e.g., preventing a hurricane)? And who says that such grand effects from small actions must be limited to the deterministic, natural world? In other words, can we get similarly great outcomes from small initial acts in the realms of the intangible and indeterministic (or at least less well understood so we don’t know how it’s deterministic), such as psychology, relationships, and the spiritual? Continue reading

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