The Ripple Effect

by Jan on January 13, 2012

You don’t pay love back; you pay it forward.” ~ Lily Hardy Hammond (1916)

Sophia Elise, "Ripple Effect"

"Ripple Effect" by Sophia Elise

Have you ever done a good deed, thinking it was no big thing, only to find yourself surprised by the huge impact it had on another?

We often take our good deeds for granted. We never can know ahead of time which tiny drop, which small deed, will ripple out and eventually create a wave.

When Joe Mornini, a high school teacher, started sharing his kayaking skills as  a form of physical therapy, he had no idea of the ripple effect he would create. With the increasing number of wounded veterans returning to their lives back home,  it didn’t take long to expand his organization, Team River Runner. Kayaking rushing river rapids not only provides these veterans physical therapy, but also gives them back a sense of adventure, accomplishment and independence that they may have lost. In this video you’ll see that through the process of learning and doing the participants, their community and family, the teachers and volunteers, all experience healing and hope.

Team River Runner is expanding rapidly, with plans to open chapters in every state — spreading a positive model for recovery and life long health after serious injury.

This is why the idea of paying it forward has so much impact. One kindness spreads to another, just like a smile spreads. We are connected to each other through these acts of kindness, through our human goodness.

Take the recent story of a small town coffee shop where patrons pay anonymously for whoever comes in next. In these tough economic times sometimes a free cup of coffee is a wonderful gift. What started with one person and $100 left for future patrons has rippled out into the community, inspiring others to do the same. I’ve heard the story of a drive through coffee shop where one patron’s act of paying for the car behind was repeated by each follower until the line ended.

There’s a long history to the idea of paying it forward that far predates Kevin Spacey’s 2000 film that espouses this philosophy.

As GOOD magazine’s Cord Jefferson points out in his People are Awesome post on the story, paying it forward almost never works as smoothly as in the film. Our good actions do sometimes create a ripple effect.

All it takes is one action, throwing one stone in the “water,” it can affect many people in a positive way. In these stories we see that by giving hope to others, we heal ourselves. We also see that hope thrives in community.

Are you going to throw your stone and cause a ripple of hope?

One comment

and interesting that you chose Sophias work. She is an amazing kind woman who dedicated many years to this and was part of the reason that I grew so much as an artist in my career as an arts director!

by Rachael Inch on January 13, 2012 at 3:44 pm. #