Many of us have heard of “six degrees of separation,” and for those who haven’t, it’s the theory we’re all connected by six degrees or less. Every person you know is separated from you by one degree, every person they know is separated from you by two degrees, the people those people know are separated from you by three degrees, and so forth.
“Six degrees of separation” indicates you are six connections away, or less, from reaching anyone in the world, through a chain of personal networks that start with you.
As I was sitting at my kitchen table one day, a flash of curiosity hit me and the questions began flowing...
Six degrees of separation…how interesting…that so many of us have heard of this theory, yet what is it about the theory we are so drawn to?
And why is it that we use the word separation to describe how we’re all connected, rather than using the word connection to talk about it…what is that all about?
As I rolled these questions around inside, I found the answer buried within.
We, as people, deeply long for connection yet isolate and separate ourselves from the very connection we seek. We're drawn to negativity, as the media consistently proves with it’s success in selling “bad news,” and as we quench our thirst for gossip in the tabloids and day-to-day conversations held with each other.
To explain how we are all connected by virtue of how we are separate makes perfect sense within the context of our current perspective; we explain a positive with a negative, addressing a concept that hits us to the core, and the theory has spread worldwide.
Separation creates sadness within us, whether it is separation from others, ourselves, or from that which is bigger than us, be it universe, god, or spirit. So why then do we separate ourselves if it brings such pain? Numerous books have been written on this topic, and I am not here to prove, disprove, nor quote any of them. I can say, however, that in the work I have done with clients over the years, I have seen the emotions and limiting beliefs of unworthiness, shame, fear, and doubt, pop up over and over again when exploring the circumstances around, and experience of, separation.
So the question becomes this...
What would happen if we changed the conversation, and instead of talking about our connectedness by how separate we are, we talked about our connectedness by how we are all connected?
We are all human. We are all living this life as best we can with the tools and resources available to us at any given moment. We are a compilation of experience, intention, and something bigger and greater than I will even attempt to explain. We are all connected.
And if we were willing to take this one step further, and begin to see the people we are connected to, and notice how each one has brought meaning, wisdom, love, or lessons into our lives, and acknowledge them with gratitude for their existence, how would that change the conversation? How would that change the conversation with ourselves?
You don’t have to reach out by six degrees to impact your furthest connection. The ripple effect happens with each move that you make.
Have you ever spent time with someone who was in an awful mood that ruined your day? Or with someone so full of joy that your day was uplifted? Ever see someone fall down and not help, or go out of your way to make a difference in someone’s life? How we are in each moment affects others, period.
Want to make a difference in the world?
Whether you want to or not, through action or inaction, you do make a difference. The quality is up to you.
So how do you begin?
I will offer, that when we connect to ourselves with true gratitude for all that we are, and see ourselves not as flawed, but amazing, simply as we exist, it allows us the freedom to truly be ourselves. And when we show up as our full and wonderful selves we create magnificent experiences and changes in the world, inspiring others to do the same.
Easier said than done? Perhaps. Though I have seen it, and it begins to amplify in a profound and positive way, when we are willing to connect deeply, and with gratitude, to that one incredible degree within.
If you fully believed in yourself, and had the freedom to be your true self, what would that do for you? What would that do for others? What amazing possibilities would come to life, and what dreams would you put into action?
Change can happen easily when we are willing to see and honor ourselves from within, and even a small shift in perspective can have a tremendous and lasting impact. Once we know something, we can’t not know it, and as our inner transformation flows directly into our outer experience, our lives and world begin to shift.
Whether you expand into personal joy and freedom, put your life purpose into action, or receive clarity and inspiration to generate new possibilities for yourself and others, each experience, each opening, and each action creates a chain of events that touch the lives of those around you, your friends, family, community, and world.
One person does make a difference.
It starts with you.
And with me.
And I believe that together, we have the power to transform the world with love, joy, and gratitude each step of the way.
All great changes begin with one next step. What is your vision for the future? And what action will you put into motion today?
With love and gratitude,
Inspired to make a positive difference in your life or world? Check out Living Your Purpose: A New Path Is Emerging and the accompanying Coaching Toolbox, 6 Steps to Ignite Your Purpose into Action, for helpful tips to get started today.
Want to connect?
Let me know if you have questions or want to say hello. I read every note that comes my way, and if you are inspired, I’d love to hear from you!
Lena D. Meyer is a Transformational Life Coach, Public Speaker, and founder of Gratitude6. She is ranked as one of the top coaches in the Pacific Northwest, and since 2008 has supported hundreds of people in living their most joyful, meaningful, and empowered lives.
Copyright © 2018 Gratitude6, LLC.
Originally published as "Six Degrees of Gratitude: Transform Yourself, Transform the World" copyright © 2012-Sept. 2015, and "Six Degrees of Gratitude: Global Impact that Starts with You" copyright © 2015. Read full disclaimer here.
Six Degrees of Gratitude(TM) is a trademark of Gratitude6, LLC.