December is a month of variety for people around the globe. For some, it accompanies a cold winter season, while others relax in breezy winds. The season also comes with its festive madness – the highs and lows of daily life. It is the time of greetings, tying up loose ends, and thinking of newer beginnings & possibilities.

As one would see in Christmas movies – which are so popular around these times – there is always a beginning, a middle – usually one capped with the protagonist experiencing difficulties and concerns – and finally, a conclusion. The conclusion of these stories takes us back to childhood preserved with timeless narratives, morals, and meanings. But do we find such conclusions in our daily lives or our struggles, is there a feeling of moving ahead from an obstacle or do things feel like a continuous stream of situations going awry. How do we inculcate these stories of hope, stories of endless motivation in our life? The answer is the Butterfly effect. Now, the words Hope and Motivation are somewhat familiar but… Have you heard of the Butterfly effect?

Well, it’s a term having its existence in many theories and rather used as jargon but so beautiful in its syntax that I was hard-pressed to use it! The butterfly effect in essence means how a small thing, a small change in our life can result in large consequences. Translating this into everyday practice would mean, bringing about a very small change, doing something different in our life such that it requires little to no effort can also have a positive impact on our life and well-being. For instance, an individual who decides to reduce weight resolves to go all out, deciding to exercise for 1 hour, take up a detox diet. So the changes they are making are demanding and require complete alteration to their routine. In another situation, the person decides to jog up and down the stairs rather than using the elevator in buildings. This requires the individual to continue with their daily routine with a slight change, a change of their choice, and something that they believe is  “doable”. A successful change in this area would allow the person to feel hope and perhaps extend their boundaries to try something else. If you think about it, any good habit is made up of smaller good habits. This was also emphasized in a study called the Chump study: ‘Chocolate Happiness Undergoing More Pleasantness is a study to explore the impact of chocolate on our Happiness’ (Chan K., 2007). Even though the findings of the study were inconclusive, it emphasized the fact that we take from our daily life things that contribute to our well-being. 

The butterfly effect (Lorenz E), comes into existence when we are able to break down our concerns into smaller solvable goals. Most of the time this happens as a result of something very small we did or that happened to us that got us thinking in a different way. In the above example, this person was walking out of the metro station feeling bad about their recent weight gain and had to climb up a flight of stairs due to a breakdown of the escalator. This acted as motivation for this individual. The Chump study further got me thinking, what is that one thing around you that you would consider an ambassador of hope for you, or better mood, or letting go, the ‘it’s okay’ sign. If you don’t have an answer to it right now, what would you like to be there to help keep the hope? For some it’s stories, for some, it’s the festival itself, the idea of bunking college/office. So taking inspiration from these, what would be your butterfly step or Chump object this season?

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About the Author:

Naina Midha

(she/her)

Naina is a QACP certified psychologist offering an eclectic approach to therapy. Her goal is to help individuals equip themselves with inner strengths and resources to resolve any problems in life.

📸 Featured Image by Anna Shvets | In piece Image by Amy Humphries
References:

American Psychological Association. (n.d.). Apa Dictionary of Psychology. American Psychological Association. Retrieved December 29, 2021, from https://dictionary.apa.org/butterfly-effect

Chan K. (2007). A clinical trial gone awry: the Chocolate Happiness Undergoing More Pleasantness (CHUMP) study. CMAJ : Canadian Medical Association journal = journal de l’Association medicale canadienne, 177(12), 1539–1541. https://doi.org/10.1503/cmaj.071161

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