Illustration of blue butterflies
Random acts of kindness. Who knows the impact they can have?

Change your life – The butterfly effect

19 May, 2014

Many of you will be familiar with this theory.

The scientists among you will no doubt correct me here, but I believe the idea behind it is that a butterfly fluttering its wings in one part of the world can have an impact on the climate in another part of the world.

It struck me that in a small way, like a single butterfly, each one of us has the capacity to influence hundreds – even thou­sands – of people through the way that we behave.

Here’s an example. There’s a particularly nasty road junction in my village, where you can wait for ages for a gap in the endless stream of traffic. When I can, I’ll stop to create the space and the opportunity for people to pull out.

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” — Leo Buscaglia

The point is, I’ve noticed time after time, that the driver I stopped for will invariably do the same for someone else. Who knows – perhaps they then do the same for another driver. And so it goes on.

A few years ago, my partner and I broke down on the motor­way in France on our way home to catch the ferry. Another motorist noticed us at the side of the road, with our radiator spewing steam, and pulled in behind us. He went to the boot of his car, pulled out a container of water and handed it to us. No, he didn’t need it back – we could keep it and fill it up as we drove on. That random act of kindness not only got us to the ferry on time, it had a profound impact on both of us. Ever since then, we’ve always stopped to help when we see someone in trouble on the road.

Random acts of kindness. Who knows the impact they can have?


  • Annabel Sutton is a Professional Certified Coach and Author.  She has lived in Los Angeles and Indonesia; survived earthquakes and riots, lived with head-hunters and enjoyed a portfolio career.  She now enjoys a somewhat quieter life in Somerset!  Her latest book, 52 Ways to Transform Your Life (Weekly Wisdom for Busy People), contains 52 inspiring, quick-to-read life tips and is available from . Find more information at