It’s Saturday morning and I’m stepping onto my elliptical machine with my usual excitement and anticipation…NOT…when I am caught off guard by the sound of an approaching train in the distance. Now, mind you, this noise is not unusual by nature since I live across the field from a train track. No, in fact it is quite routine to the point that I hardly even notice it anymore. What made it stand out on this particular day was the fact that as this lone train made its presence known, it used quite an unusual and unique announcement of its arrival instead of the standard “whoo whoo!” trains are traditionally known for. What this train bellowed instead, was the rhythm of a familiar line from a Christmas carol that everyone in the modern world knows. Needless to say, I was blown away. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)
What carol, you ask? “Whoo whoo whoo, whoo whoo whoo, whoo whoo whoo whoo whoo.” Jingle Bells of course! So, here I am on this aggravatingly chilly day in April, and I’m boarding the most unexciting ride at the cardio carnival in my house (my elliptical machine) with a little less than my usual vigor, when I hear a train beckoning this unique call into the mundane Midwest morning countryside. With chin in hand, I cocked my head and smiled a wide, toothy grin. Now this got me to thinking.
What type of a train engineer blows this kind of message instead of the regular “whoo whoo” and why? Especially considering it’s not even Christmastime. I mean, come on. I live in a town that is known for being overrun by trains. You can’t go anywhere without being stopped by one. It’s frickin train central! I’ve heard a gazillion trains in my lifetime, yet never have I heard this before.
So, back to the question: What kind of train engineer follows through with a playful urge such as this by actually doing it? And more importantly, does he know how many people he just made smile? Does he know that I was very deep in thought about some not-so-pleasant issues and, therefore, feeling a bit stressed at that very moment? Yet, this total stranger, who I will never meet, completely changed my morning mood, thereby significantly improving my day.
Now, it gets better. I was so affected that I momentarily stepped down from my mission on my machine and posted about it on Facebook, and within a few minutes about 15-20 people “Liked” it. I would be willing to bet that they were smiling as they clicked.
Let me ask you something. When is the last time something someone said, did, or wrote made you pause long enough to simply smile? Now, let’s take this a step further. Did you know that studies show that smiles actually cause happiness and lower aggression? Smiling helps generate positive happy emotions within you, and this leads to a decrease in the stress-induced hormones that negatively affect your physical and mental health. Let’s face it! It just feels good to smile!
This is the very reason I “share” all the posts that I do on Facebook that are positive and have a good message and most importantly and significantly…wait for it…MAKE PEOPLE SMILE.
I am sure everybody has heard of the butterfly effect. Right? Bear with me, this gets a little hairy (science-y) for just a sec. Wikipedia states this about the butterfly effect: “In chaos theory, the butterfly effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions, where a small change at one place in a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences to a later state. The name of the effect, coined by Edward Lorenz, is derived from the theoretical example of a hurricane’s formation being contingent on whether or not a distant butterfly had flapped its wings several weeks before.”
My ridiculously simplified translation of what Wikipedia just stated and how it affects us in the real world is this: Everything anybody does affects everybody in one way or another everywhere. Nothing happens that doesn’t affect somebody or something somewhere! Can you say cause and effect? Can you say quantum physics? Little things matter. It all matters!
We are all made of energy. Everything on this earth is made of energy. Every thought I have, (listening to the train whistle) especially once I’ve turned it into action, (posted about it on Facebook) has now begun to affect people in a ripple effect that can go viral and rampant and THAT IS MAGIC! Energy used at its best!
Here is a hypothetical example of how this can work: Maybe somebody was going to do something not so positive (rob a liquor store) and changed his mind because something happened that changed this would-be robber’s energy or thought process from despair to hope (hearing a distant train whistle a Christmas carol in the middle of April on his way to the robbery) thereby totally changing the outcome (he takes the incident as a sign from God and decides not to rob the store). Had he carried out the robbery, he would have shot the manager and gone to prison. His seven-year-old son would have followed in his footsteps and had an illustrious career in drugs, violence, thievery, and eventually prison. Instead, the following week he found a stable job, and his son grew up to become a pillar in the community, counseling troubled youth and changing countless lives. It could happen.
And it all started with a train engineer blowing Jingle Bells on a cold and clear April morning in a lonely southwestern Indiana town.
My fitness books may not be rocket science. The Now What? Fitness Series may not be Nobel Prize winning material or a New York Times bestseller. In fact, you can read one in its entirety in a couple of hours. Will they change the world? No.
But they can change your world. Because in these books I give you practical information and guidance on how to live a healthier life. The healthier you become, the happier you will feel. And when you make lifestyle choices that include regular exercise and healthy nutrition as opposed to a sedentary lifestyle with poor eating habits, I promise you that your world will change. And when your world changes, it also changes the world of the people around you.
I cannot change the world all at once. But I can change the world one person at a time, and it starts with you.
Now, smile. Just because it feels good.