the effect or influence of one person, thing, or action, on another



When you stop and think about it, life can be quite fascinating.  Paddling this morning in the darkness, I saw a fin surface about 20 feet from my board.  The movement was sudden and deliberate.  Since I have been paddling in the dark, almost every day for the better part of 8 years, I was not startled and new instantly that it was a dolphin.  I never stop getting fascinated with these common events; from a bald eagle catching a fish out of the water with its talons to a sea turtle surfacing to take a look at me; a pelican catching a fish in a break neck dive splash.  Life and death in one quick flash.  We realize fairly early in life that actions have equal and opposite reactions.  If you remember Physics and Newton’s third law of motion, you realize that everything that you do affects something else.  You cause something to happen.  You make an impact.  Conversely, when things happen, whether good or bad, you are impacted by something or someone.  For good or bad, 


Good or Bad?


We all have our bad days.  Things are not going right.  You wake up late.  You forget to take out the garbage.  You neglect to eat the right foods and have a stomach ache.  Your spouse tells you something hurtful.  You make a mistake at work and your boss reprimands you. You begin to realize that you are not in a job that you like.  We have all had days like that.  There is a country song called The Bug by Mary Chapin Carpenter the explains it all, “Sometimes your the windshield, sometimes your the bug…”  Life is not fun when you are the bug, but relish in being a bug so that when you are a windshield, you can truly appreciate it.  The impacts we make on the bad days are real, but truly feeling the good impacts can be difficult because sometimes, we take things for granted.


When good things happen to us, or when we are the windshield, we are happy. We impact ourselves in a positive way.  When we make others happy or help them, our impacts are greater and our happiness is greater, much greater.  Helping others is hardwired into our brains.  The dopamine that is released chemically in the brain when we help others is exponentially greater than when we are helping ourselves.  That is how we were designed as humans.  The impact that we make on others cannot be understated.  


The Importance of Impact


Everything that we say, do or think, has an impact on ourselves and others.  Everything.  That is why we must strive not to take anything for granted and pay attention to everything that we do or say to ourselves and others.  Being mindful of everything that we say or do is the key.  From letting strangers pass through in automobile traffic to saying some kind words to our family members when we are tired from a long day at work or just “not in the mood;” everything that we say or do has an effect on other people or the environment.  That Newtonian Law holds equally well with people and events as it does with inanimate objects in time and space.  I still remember words that were said to me almost half a century ago by my father and other influential people.  Stop and listen, and you will also hear words or see events long past.  These are the impacts that drive our lives; and these are the impacts that you are making right now, to all of those around you, and, even to yourself.  


Our Thoughts


Our thoughts have a tremendous amount of impact on our subconscious minds.  Thoughts are essentially the unspoken words that we tell ourselves.  As you can realize, thoughts have an incredible amount of impact on how we live our lives.  Have too many negative or self defeating thoughts?  Your journey down the pathway of life will not be too pleasant.  On the other hand, having positive and thoughts filled with learning and encouragement can lead to success and happiness.  Just having a positive attitude or some genuine and honest kind words to others can have a strong impact.  Sometimes, not thinking at all can be the best recipe to living in the moment, and this has the most effective impact of all.  The art of not thinking and disconnecting from everything and just being is a state that we, as a society, have ventured away from.  If you genuinely are stressed when you have nothing to do, or your mind is always racing and pondering something, this message is for you.  Sometimes having the most impact involves controlling your mind to not think about anything at all.  Counterintuitive but true.




Think about all the people that have made a positive and negative impact in your life.  Some of them could be famous, like Mozart or Steve Jobs.  These individuals have made lasting impacts that will hundreds of years (Mozart already has; Jobs remains to be seen), but the ones that you choose may be more personal.  How much of an impact have these individuals had on your life?  Why?  Now look at your own impacts that you make on a daily basis.  Remember that everything that you say or do (including to yourself) has an impact in one way or another.  Paying attention to this fact, what steps are you going to take (if any) to become more cognizant of the impacts that you make?  Finally, take time this week to find a period of time each day to quiet your mind so that you can be more effective and deliberate when your brain is switched on.  Remember that the most impactful “action” that you can do for yourself is to quiet your mind and not think at all and allow yourself to just be in the moment, taking everything in and being grateful for living another day.  Sometimes doing and thinking about nothing, can, at least for yourself, have the most impact.


“Lean into it!”


Dr. N