You Can Change the World Every Day

Are you someone who can change the world?

Stop. Go back and reread that sentence. Give it some serious thought.

Do you think you could do it?

Maybe your answer is a hesitant yes. Or maybe it’s a definite no. The world is too big, has too many people trying to change it.

But everyone can change the world, right? At least, that’s what everyone says.

It’s my contention that you one hundred percent have the power to change the world every day.

Cheesy motivational crap? I don’t think so. Let me explain.

The Brain on Words

When you put someone in an fMRI scanner and monitor their brains while the word ‘no’ is flashed on a screen for less than one second, something crazy happens. Even in that tiny amount of time, there is a sudden release of dozens of stress-producing hormones. Those hormones impair reasoning and communication.

When speaking negative words, stress chemicals are released in the listener’s brain. Expected. But what’s interesting is those same chemicals are also released in the speaker’s brain, affecting both people’s actions.

What about positive words?

Positive words can actually change the expression of genes. Over time, they strengthen the frontal lobes – promoting cognitive function. Motivation and resiliency increase.

Emily Heaphy and Marcial Losada found in a study that a ratio of 5.6 positive comments for every negative one made strategic business units more successful than those with a lower ratio.

Lollipop moments

On Drew Dudley’s last day of college, a girl came up to him and told him about something that had happened four years earlier on her first day at the school.

The day before she started school, she was convinced that she couldn’t go through with her decision to go to college. She just didn’t think she could do it. While standing in line for registration with her parents, she was just about to tell them to take her home, when along came Drew Dudley, passing out lollipops to people in line to raise money for a charity.

He came up to this girl and stopped. Then, he turned (while wearing the strangest hat the girl had ever seen) and looked at the guy next to her.

“You need to give a lollipop to the beautiful woman standing next to you.”

The girl had never seen anyone get so embarrassed so fast. This guy turned beet red and held out the lollipop hesitantly. The girl felt bad for him so she took it.

Then Drew Dudley turned to her parents and said, “Look at that. First day away from home and she’s already taking candy from a stranger.”

Everyone in the near vicinity lost it laughing. It was then the girl knew that she couldn’t quit and that she was where she was supposed to be.

That same girl, after telling Drew Dudley this story told him this. “I haven’t spoken to you once in the time that I’ve been here. And I heard that you were leaving and I wanted to tell you that you’ve been an incredibly important person in my life.”

She starts to walk away, but then turns back and tells him that she’s still dating the guy in line four years later. A year later, he got an invitation for their wedding.

Drew Dudley doesn’t remember doing any of this.

Isn’t that amazing? That a moment that you might not even remember could have such a big impact on someone’s life? Drew Dudley calls these moments lollipop moments in a TED talk he delivered in February of 2012.

But how can we increase the lollipop moments — the moments that change people’s lives?

Maybe it’s taking just a few seconds to compliment someone. Telling someone that they are beautiful or handsome. Saying something nice to the person who is checking you out at the grocery store instead of standing in silence. Sometimes all it takes to change someone’s life are a few words spoken in a kind way, showing that you noticed them and their effort. Remember how it feels when someone compliments you and give that feeling to someone else.

Changing the world

But wait. Didn’t I say that you can change the world every day? How do words relate to that in any way?

Well, I’ll let Drew Dudley sum it up.

“There is no world, just 7 billion different understandings of it. If you change just one person’s perspective, you’ve changed the whole thing.”

I challenge you to change the way you speak to people, even just a little. You never know how that might change their world.


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