We probably all, at one time or another, have heard the terms “ripple effect,” “six degrees of separation,” and the “butterfly effect.”

Just in case you are unfamiliar with these terms or as a quick review: In every culture and religion, there is a belief in “the ripple effect”—how one event or action will have reach and ripple out, like a pebble thrown in water, affecting the whole. “Six degrees of separation” is the belief that we are all connected only six people away, at most, from strangers, and the underlying idea is that we are all connected through others, and many, if not most, times, we are completely unaware of it. The “butterfly effect” refers to the theory that a butterfly flapping its wings in one part of the world can cause a hurricane eventually in another part of the world, thus pointing out that a seemingly tiny, meaningless action can have a much larger, far-reaching effect on subsequent historic events.

All of these ideas tie into the notion that every thing, every action, every person has an effect on others and on the world at large, whether it’s meant to or not or whether we are aware of it or not.

What has been interesting to me during my journey of studying epiphanies is that I have experienced these three ideas in super crisp Technicolor, so to speak. Epiphanies are one way, one prism, for us to study how interconnected we truly are, and by examining our epiphanies and noticing the actions that result, we can witness and experience the “ripple effect” in quite profound ways.

When one person changes because of an epiphany, it affects not only his or her life, but everyone around them and, sometimes, the world at large in huge ways.

“If you don’t believe in yourself, nobody else is going to. So go for it. Find what makes you happy and do it.”
David Hudgins

One very recent example of an epiphany that keeps rippling out is David Hudgins’ epiphany. I interviewed David a couple of years ago for my book. His epiphany was sparked by his sister encouraging (or reprimanding) him to go for his dreams and not to wait on “some day” or lament them as something he couldn’t do. She was only thirty-seven and battling breast cancer at the time, and the next day, David changed his life to start pursuing his dreams of making films and television and now is a very successful television writer and producer. (His Parenthood episode that aired January 1, 2013 was the top-rated show the night it aired and has a breast cancer storyline, and his blog of the behind-the-scenes story is stunning.)

That one moment in Catherine Hudgins Tuck’s hospital room not only changed David’s life when he took action on it, but it changed his family’s life as he embarked on a new career that has touched and is touching thousands of people’s lives as he writes for television. Years later, his epiphany has had a huge impact and acts as a major source of encouragement for me when he shared it with me for my book and website, and it has gone on to touch others that way.

Now the epiphany is moving into even much bigger realms. Several months ago, the Catherine H. Tuck Foundation was launched. The foundation’s mission is to specifically support women getting treatment for breast cancer with living expenses so they can focus on healing. Catherine and David will now touch many, many more lives for the better. See?!?! Ripple.

Watch David Hudgins’ greatest epiphany, inspired by his sister Catherine.

How are the things you’ve done and are doing rippling out?

Even with a kind word or action? Have you thought about it? Are you taking action on your epiphanies in big or little ways? Any action counts and makes a ripple. Just take a minute to observe how you’re “rippling” out. Maybe tell your family and friends how they might have “rippled” out and touched your life in a positive way and thank them, and then ask them how they see you “rippling” out. I encourage us all to start thinking about how we can make our ripples as positive as possible.

Elise Ballard is the author of the book, Epiphany: True Stories of Sudden Insight to Inspire, Encourage, and Transform, a heartfelt journey full of amazing stories of fascinating people, from world-renowned figures, thought leaders, and performers—such as Maya Angelou, Dr. Oz, Desmond Tutu, Deepak Chopra and Barry Manilow—to former inmates, leading psychologists, teachers, homemakers, and many more. To learn more about Elise and Epiphany Channel, visit her website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.