I love the movie Gladiator.

Next to A Good Year, it’s my favorite Russell Crowe movie. I love it for the line at the beginning where Crowe’s Maximus character is revving up his Roman troops to do battle and says to them, “What you do in life echoes in eternity.”

Think about that line. It’s absolutely profound.

I used to get overwhelmed by thinking whether or not I could affect anything going on in this big old world around me. Injustices tick me off and I wonder: can I make a difference if I do something more than simply complain? At some point, I realized that I can make a difference by having the ripples that go out from me be positive ripples instead of negative ones.

I purge negative people from my life.

That’s a very difficult thing to do on many levels. You may be forced to interact with a family member whose views turn toward the negative-woe-is-me approach to life. You can’t always write them out of your script, can you? But you can turn away when they talk negatively.

At work, it can be equally difficult to purge interactions with a negative personality. Once, I had a co-worker who insisted on telling me every negative thing another co-worker said about me. I would get upset and think: wow, I’ve never done anything to this person. Finally, I told the teller: Stop repeating everything she says about me. She’s making this stuff up. For whatever reason she hates me. There is nothing I can do to change her.

Did the person stop saying bad things about me: Nope; she sure didn’t. But I no longer had to spend my time hearing about it or have my psyche damaged by wondering why she disliked me so much. I could focus my time on the positive energy people instead.

Again, I know that family boundaries are different to contend with. If it’s a parent who is negative, you have to find a way to deal with them respectfully and yet set your boundaries of interaction. One friend has a mother who calls if there is an event within five hundred miles of her to make sure it hasn’t affected her. My friend can predict that if there is a storm in her vicinity, her mother will call. She simply doesn’t answer the phone. Another friend has a mother who is always checking up on her. The friend is over fifty and quite responsible. She decided to set conversation parameters: Mom if you’re going to quiz me on every detail of my day, I’m not talking to you right now.

It’s hard, but it can be done. You can set your boundaries.

One of my mundane negatives is getting ticked off at bad drivers. Every city has its fair share of weird driving habits. Pittsburgh does, too. I’m a traffic obeyer—whatever the sign or situation dictates, I do. Okay, most of the time. When I get mad at another driver and instinctively want to react aggressively, I stop and think: uh oh, what if that’s a member of my bible study driving that car? What if they just got really bad news and are driving home to have a good cry?

Each small thing we do in life echoes out from us on a larger scale. We ripple into the world. Negatively or positively.

Gilbert W. Griffith

I remember walking into a small town café dad used to frequent. In his early seventies at the time, dad looked and acted sixty something. I trailed in behind him, and heard a resounding array of names called out to him in greeting: “Grif, Gil, Montana…” and smiles everywhere. Then one old gent shook my sad’s hand and said, “I’ve known your dad since he was this big,” indicating about five years old. “He’s always been a good fellow.”

My dad’s ripples were broad and far-reaching even though he grew up and lived in the same town almost his entire life. What did dad change in the world around him? Everyone, I think, who came in contact with him was changed as a result of his positive outlook. In facing ALS/Lou Gehrig’s disease, the medical, Veteran’s, and hospice people who met Dad at the worst time of his life were swept up in the joy he shared simply by being.

When I think about the ripples I want to cause in my world, let alone in the eternity I hope to have in heaven, I think about my dad and what he did on earth. I want to emulate that sort of positive–giving energy to everyone around me.

Sounds like a lot of work, doesn’t it? Maybe it is. Changing your attitude, your way of approaching others…it’s difficult and profound and takes deep introspection.

If you see a crazy redhead driving around Pittsburgh in her little Rogue, smile at her and wave…you’ll help me stay on target with my goal to share positive echoes around our city.

Everything we do in life echoes out from us on a larger scale. We ripple into the world. Negatively or positively. Click To Tweet