We often think that the BIG events and actions of our lives are most important, but often it’s the little things, or giving power to the little that has an impact.
In his book, The Tipping Point: How little things can make a big difference, the brilliant author Malcolm Gladwell looks at how small things can become epidemic. How sometimes small factors make a disease or flu or social media post go “viral.” Remember Gahng-nam style! amzn.to/2sMwwxh
One example is a concept from marketing, the “stickiness” factor, or what makes something memorable, like all those advertising jingles that were so common. He talks about the success of Sesame Street. One element was that Jim Henson had an advertising background that he brought to make commercials out of letters and words using ad techniques of repetition and rhyming.
At the time, many child psychologists felt that the fantasy elements (the Muppets) should be separated from the real elements, saying it would be misleading to children, and most children’s TV shows followed that belief. But tests of attention with preschoolers showed that the children only watched when the Muppets were on. The producers had the actors and Muppets talk and walk and interact, and that small thing turned the tide of its amazing popularity.
Another example is the Broken Windows theory by a criminologist named Kelling, which is that crime is the result of disorder. If one window is broken and left unrepaired, people will conclude that no one cares or is in charge. Soon more windows will be broken, then it spreads to a neighboring building and down the street. Crime can be contagious, starting with a broken window and spreading to an entire community.
Graffiti has the same effect. The New York Transit Authority put this theory into practice in a multi-billion dollar rebuilding of a subway system. They were told to focus on the larger question of crime and not worry about graffiti, which seemed like scrubbing the decks of the Titanic as it headed toward the iceberg.
But Kelling was hired as a consultant and insisted the graffiti was the symbolic tipping point. The director vigorously attacked the problem and set up a cleaning station at the end of each line to clean or paint over the graffiti, line by line, train by train. The clean-up took some time, but the message became clear. Riders never saw graffiti in the trains and stations¸ which influenced the entire crime rate to decrease dramatically.
I was thinking about this with the Spring Equinox coming up and the days getting longer and the nights shorter. The whole reason for the seasons, something so intrinsic and powerful in human life, is simply this: The Earth is not straight up and down on its axis but is tipped or tilted. This is really the power of the tipping point because the tilt is only 23.5 degrees - only 1/18th or 6% of the circle of orbit.
Consequently, as the Earth goes around its orbit in the yearly revolution around the sun, each hemisphere is oriented more toward or more away from the sun. We experience summer in North America when when the Northern Hemisphere is pointing towards the sun. The sun appears to stay in the sky longer each day, but really, we are just pointed toward the Sun for longer each day, and its rays strike the ground more directly, so it’s warmer. In winter in the Northern Hemisphere, the Sun is pointed away from the sun, and its rays strike the ground more obliquely, so it’s colder and darker.
The fact of seasons on Earth is so much a part of our rituals, biorhythms, times of planting and reaping, our cycle of life – and so much of our conversation. What would some people talk about without weather? This diversity of seasons, of light and dark and weather change, is an intrinsic part of our whole planetary experience – all due to that tiny tilt. Imagine what it would be like to have the same temperature, the same light all year around. We might be a much more boring species – or would we be able to be much more focused and less distracted?
Nature often shows us the power of the small, as a tiny shoot bursting up through the ground, or a flower just starting to open. A Zen verse proclaims:
In spring, hundreds of flowers; in summer, a refreshing breeze;
In autumn, a harvest moon, in winter snows accompanies you.
If useless things do not hang in your mind, any season is a good season for you….”
Ernest Holmes talks about that with the Law of Mind, there’s no large or small. He says, “This Law is neither big nor little. It knows nothing about time, space or limitation. It merely knows to do. It cannot argue. Therefore, It must accept our conclusion about It as Its conclusion about us.”
Like the story of the man who asked God: “How long is a million years to you?” God answers: “One second.” The man asks: “How much is a million dollars to you?” God says: A penny.” The man asks, “Well…could I have a penny?” God answers: “Yes, in just a second”
It’s not God that thinks in big or small, that’s in our thinking. We can perhaps have the consciousness of abundance in some things, like health or love or parking spaces. But when it comes to money or creativity, or a relationship, it seems too big, that it would take a miracle to change.
What needs to change is our miracle consciousness – for a miracle is a shift in perception and miracles are our birthright. It’s all about consciousness. Rather than seeing the desired thing as big, see it as small – easy, accessible, done. It’s our consciousness that we want to change. The word I’m using more and more is assume: I assume that I am always loved and supported and blessed. As Emma Curtis Hopkins said: "There is good for me, and I ought to have it! "
This subject also made me think of an interesting film called Thirteen Conversations about One Thing, shot in 13 episodes that start to integrate with each other. But the important thing is an interview I read with the director, Jill Sprecher, who talked about her inspiration for the film. She was at a very low point in her career and personal life after sustaining head injuries. Riding on the subway one day, she started thinking about how she would commit suicide when she got home. As she was staring out, she noticed a man sitting across from her, who smiled at her in a very warm, compassionate way. That one simple act of human connection and kindness changed her mind. We don’t really know the powerful effect of the smallest of acts.
Here’s another example called the Weight of a Snowflake.
"Tell me the weight of a snowflake," a mouse asked a wild dove.
"Nothing more than nothing," the dove answered.
"In that case I must tell you a story," the mouse said. "I sat on a fir branch when it began to snow. Not heavily, buy just like in a dream, without any violence at all. Since I didn't have anything to do, I counted the snowflakes settling on the twigs and needles of my branch. Their number was exactly 3,471,952. When the next snowflake dropped onto the branch – as you say, nothing more than nothing – the branch broke off."
Having said that, the mouse ran away. The dove, since Noah's time an authority on peace, thought about the story for a while. Finally, she said to herself, "Perhaps there is only one person's voice lacking for peace to come to the world."
We never know how one word, one expression, one smile might be the tipping point for the whole world to be at peace, to be enlightened. We never know how cleaning up the broken windows and graffiti in our minds could increase our peace and happiness and for everyone else around us.
What broken window do you need to fix that might be the tipping point to greater happiness or harmony? Some broken thought of unforgiveness? Think of what small bit of graffiti you could clean up in your life that can make a large change. What negative words are scribbled in your mind that by cleaning them up can open you to a greater, happier, and more fulfilled life?
What is one thing you could do or say today that would be the tipping point to bring peace in the world?
I have a passion for stories and inspirational literature.