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  • Writer's pictureEmily Breeden

The “Ripple Effect” in Real Life

Something I’ve been geeking out on lately is how the ripple effect works and is actually, at this moment as I write this, changing my GD life.

What is the ripple effect?  

It’s pretty simple, actually.  Also known as the compound effect (mentioned in an earlier post – this is so important it deserves its own post!!), or the butterfly effect, domino effect… whatever you want to call it.  Basically it is where you make one little change, and it starts to “trickle” into, or effect other parts of your life.  When I Google it, the inter-webs defines it as, “the continuing and spreading results of an event or action.


As I’m experiencing this “phenomenon” in real-time, one of my favorite new podcasts, Broken Brain, released a new episode that talks all about this (the audio is a little messed up on that episode but the interview is FANTASTIC.)  Dhru Purohit interviews Dr. Chatterjee “about practical solutions and simple interventions to help you destress and reset your life, and how implementing small changes to your routine can reduce or completely eradicate stress.”

When they say small, they mean SMALL.  Dr. Chatterjee talks about how implementing a simple 5-minute routine into your morning can completely change your relationships, health, attitude, happiness, stress and ultimately, your life.

The routine can be pretty much anything, but it has to be done for YOU.  Reading, meditating/praying, thinking about or writing down things you’re grateful for, going for a walk, journaling, doing a hobby you love (his example about a guy who is into mini train sets is amazing) are a couple things you could do.  It has to be a ritual where you simply focus on YOU.

The reason this podcast struck me so much is because before even hearing it, I had started doing this in my own life, and everything they talk about is SPOT ON.  My story isn’t as exciting as mini train sets, but hopefully will show you how this is working for me.

It all started with this workout program I signed up for 2.5 months ago.  20-30 minutes a day was the commitment, with a virtual accountability group to cheer you on and iPhone apps to stay on track.  I decided to try it.

So I made that one tiny change — just adding a SHORT workout each day to my life that I could do from home, at ANY time, since it was “On Demand” and simple… there were no excuses to miss it, even for someone like me who LOVES trying new workouts, but rarely sticks with them long-term.

Once I realized I could actually follow a consistent daily routine (for once in my life), I decided to try another small change that my coaches recommended.  By the way, YES, you get coaches in the program, which is pretty awesome.  I started reading a personal development book (I chose to start with “You Are a Badass” by Jen Sincero) for 5-10 minutes each morning.  JUST 5-10 minutes.  This is where the magic started to happen, just like Dr. Chatterjee talks about.

By the way… before you say “I could never do that, I’m not a morning person!” just know, that I am NOT a morning person, and have NEVER been one.  I have always been the person who hits snooze 10x, until the last second possible… ends up being in a huge rush to get to work, feels flustered and groggy and just wants to nap all day, then can’t sleep very well the next night, ultimately ends up “burning the candle from both ends” every day until the weekend, where I’d then burn the candle REALLY hard one on end (i.e. go out until bar close) and sleep in late, which then kind of messes up sleep for the upcoming week…  (Notice how that’s another “ripple effect” in itself…. alarm > hit snooze > running late > feeling unprepared > cortisol/stress hormones rising > grogginess > feeling less successful at work and in life > drinking too much wine that night to relieve stress > sleeping like crap because of the wine > alarm goes off and starts the whole thing all over again…)


Okay, back to the GOOD ripple effect.  So I decided to follow my coach’s advice and give myself 5-10 minutes each morning to read something POSITIVE before reading emails, social media, news, or anything.

After a few days, I started noticing a change.  I felt like I was in much better mood, generally a lot more calm, less stressed (even if I was “rushing”) and feeling more positive throughout the day…

After getting more into The Compound Effect audiobook (which was another recommendation from my coach), I decided to listen to the author’s advice, and stopped listening to the news.  I replaced my normal morning routine of listening to all of the negative/”shock-value” stuff the media feeds us every day and started consuming positive podcasts and audiobooks on my way to work.  Why listen to negativity that doesn’t add any value to my life, when there are SO MANY great podcasts and audiobooks that actually INSPIRE and uplift me out there?

Then… I started paying more attention to my eating and nutrition and using a tracker app to make sure that I was focusing on having a balanced, and CLEAN diet every day.  This “ripple-effected” into my workouts; i.e. I noticed a huge difference with my energy levels and recovery, and could work out even better/harder!  This “ripple-effected” into losing a few lbs, gaining muscle, suddenly have all my clothes fitting better, and being physically ready to run a half marathon for the first time ever.

Then… I started tracking how much water I was drinking – my goal was at least 60oz/day.  Yes, I suddenly had to pee a million more times a day, but holy cow was it helping clear up my skin.  And keeping me FULL more so I wasn’t snacking on junk.  And getting me un-addicted to caffeine/sugar.  I used to get sugary caffeine drinks EVERY morning.  I definitely am not addicted like I used to be!

Then… I started focusing on my sleep habits.  I now plug my phone in across the room, and have a new goal of not looking at screens after ~9pm during the work week.  My sleep improved DRASTICALLY after making that small change.  All the changes are “small” but they are all adding up, and complementing each other.

And then and then and then and then!  Bonus points if you know the reference and also used to love that movie. 😀

and thennn.jpg

This has only been within 2.5 months of starting that exercise program.  Where will I be in 2.5 years if I keep this up? 

So if you are looking for positive “ripple-effecty” changes, I challenge you to try this.  Take 5-10 minutes EVERY morning to start reading something positive.  Here are some books I recommend, that I either read in the past, am reading now, or want to read soon (in no particular order): 

  1. You Are a Badass – Jen Sincero

  2. 10 Secrets for Success and Inner Peace – Dr. Wayne Dyer

  3. The Compound Effect – Darren Hardy

  4. Hardcore Zen – Brad Warner

  5. Girl, Wash Your Face – Rachel Hollis

  6. Calm Clarity – Due Quach

  7. The Obstacle is the Way – Ryan Holiday

  8. Grit – Angela Duckworth

  9. Radical Acceptance – Tara Brach

  10. UnF*ck Your Brain – Faith Harper

  11. Rising Strong – Brené Brown

  12. Big Magic – Elizabeth Gilbert

  13. Thinking, Fast and Slow – Daniel Kahneman

  14. Think and Grow Rich – Napolean Hill

Try this for 2 weeks, and let me know if you see a difference. ❤

Also, if you want to go the route I did and try the 20-30 min/day exercise and nutritional program… I can help you with that too.  I’ve loved the changes so much that I am now learning the coaching side of it and can get you into our group… Having coaches to keep you accountable really is magical.  You will thank me later. 😉

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