The Butterfly Effect: How Small Things Cause Major Results

Ft. Travis Scott

I first heard the term, “Butterfly Effect” back in 2017 from the acclaimed Travis Scott single, Butterfly Effect. While the song makes no actual mention of the phenomenon (still a banger though), the Genius Lyrics that were linked below still took the liberty of explaining what it meant. Blatantly put, the Butterfly Effect is meant to describe how small events can create major changes. The distinct name comes from how the flap of a butterfly’s wings can shift patterns in the atmosphere and cause a hurricane across the world. While the part about how meteorological patterns can be altered due to a butterfly is false, in the moment when I was reading those Genius annotations, I genuinely believed it to be true. It’s safe to say I was taken pretty aback by that sentiment, as it was almost like this poetic illustration of how the seemingly insignificant can create larger than life differences. 

Fortunately, I’ve wised up a little over the years (hopefully) and it was much to my chagrin that I realized how naive I was. Despite my initial disappointment, the principle itself has been a resounding theme that I’ve experienced and is something I think we can all learn from. We tend to think that large results are a byproduct of equally large causes, and that type of linear thinking makes sense to us. What we put in is what we get out, and there shouldn’t be any deviation between the two. But what we seemingly can’t comprehend is how the minor details can contribute to exponentially greater outcomes. It goes past all our logical reasoning to determine that the insignificant details can play any role in the grand scheme of things. Our problems seem large and insurmountable, and it feels like we need an effort to match. However, I’ve seen how this isn’t always necessarily true, and how the things we take for granted are more valuable than we could ever imagine. There’s great importance in all areas of our lives, and we should stop and take a look to see what’s right in front of us.

The Little Things in Life

To add some more specificity to what I’m trying to convey, I’ll pose a few examples. Like many of my friends and peers, I’ve noticed that with school picking up, I have an abundance of work beginning to pile up. Whether it’s a cluster of homework assignments and exams whose deadlines are right around the corner, or college applications and standardized testing that inevitably take up a large sum of time, our schedules seem to always be filled to the brim. The thought of all there is to do can be stressful in itself, leading to feeling stuck or hopeless as the day progresses. As I check my calendar, I can’t help but feel a little overwhelmed as I look at the extensive list of tasks ahead. My instinct has been to get to work, to force myself to sit down at my desk and carve out what I can, but with the current situation of online school, I ended up spending pretty much my entire day isolated in my room. In hindsight, it was not the most sustainable practice, as I noticed I would randomly get tired or unmotivated to work despite not moving around. 

While I sat wondering what I could do to ever overcome this problem, it ended up being the parts of my life that I never even considered that started making the difference. For one, I started going outside more and being more active. I’ve been trying to make it a priority of giving myself at least one day a week to do some physical activity. While I’ve definitely appreciated the fun that comes with getting out of the house, I also feel refreshed afterward and it’s a great way to clear my mind. My productivity increases for the rest of the week, and it all stems from this part of my life that has seemingly no correlation to the issue at hand. 

 Another way that I’ve been keeping mentally healthy is maintaining regular contact with friends. It’s fairly clear that we have been devoid of most of our accustomed social interactions, and it can feel like we’re lonely or isolated in our problems as a result. With virtual school not being an adequate substitute for our normal communication, there’s a lack of infrastructure to facilitate all our pent up energy. While places are opening back up and small groups are allowed to meet up, these are usually in moderation, and we are therefore subject to mostly conversing through a screen. While it may seem depraved, we shouldn’t overlook what we can do to make some good out of a bad situation. I’ve noticed that reaching out to friends online is significantly more difficult than just running into someone in person, but more than ever do we need it. I think everyone can agree that we all enjoy it when someone shows that they care about us and want to check-in. I know that it can seem awkward, or maybe we think that we are bothering them and they’re busy, but that’s generally never the case. All it takes is a single facetime or sending a text asking how someone is doing that can make all the difference. It doesn’t seem like much good can arise from such a small gesture, but it can really make someone’s entire day. Just listening and letting them express themselves is sometimes all it takes to uplift their spirits. There’s so much that goes behind the scenes of people’s lives, and the only way we can help them is by allowing ourselves to be a part of it.

Fly Like a Butterfly — Sting Like a Bee

As I detail how little changes can make big differences, I want to disclaim that it also holds true in the opposite direction. Therefore, we have to be more cognizant of what our actions and words can do to those around us. Just taking a moment to think about how you might be affecting others before doing anything should be a precautionary step. We tend to overlook the minor details, and as a result, we can sometimes hurt others without even knowing it. I won’t ramble on too much about this point as there’s so much good that can arise from this phenomenon, but it’s definitely something to keep in mind. 

The Butterfly Effect is something that has always piqued my interest and has been a part of my life whether I know it or not. The world we live in is vastly intertwined, and the differences we make can influence and affect more people than we can conceive. Each one of us plays a role in another person’s life, and that importance cannot be understated. I know there’s been a recent obsession about being the “main character” in our lives, but it’s always that supporting character that is there for the main character that pieces the whole story together. Be that side character; they’re usually more likable anyway 🙂 

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