How the Domino Effect Can Affect Your Day—and Your Purpose

Have you ever started out day feeling good about how you look, your prospects, or the world in general, only to have someone’s negative comment dampen your cheery mood?

I think most of us have experienced it at one time or another. Many of us have also heard the example of the man who came home after a bad day and growled at his wife, even though she’d done nothing wrong. In her frustration, she yelled at their teenager. Aggravated, he turned around and shoved a younger sibling. Not understanding why he was being picked on, the defenseless child kicked the dog in anger.

That situation was confined to the home, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes, people make what first appear to be small decisions, but the domino effect causes them to become drastic. Those choices can affect relationships, finances, and careers.

To illustrate just how powerful the effect can be, did you know that it’s possible to knock over the Empire State Building by only using twenty-eight dominos? Crazy, isn’t it? How is that possible? A domino can knock over another domino about 1.5x larger than itself. A chain of dominos of increasing size creates a mechanical chain reaction that starts with a tiny push. I've included a video below that shows and explains in very simple terms the physics behind the domino effect.

But here’s a cool thing about it. The domino effect can work in positive ways, and it has the potential to change lives.

  • A foster parent provides a loving home to a boy who grows up to be a teacher. He serves in an inner city school, encouraging others to embrace education.
  • A woman starts a small community garden and gains interest of people in the community. Before long, the garden has tripled in size.
  • An elderly woman offers to read stories to several children next door, and as time goes on, her home becomes a gathering place for not only children, but women in the neighborhood who need friendship.

Here a few examples of how one decision led to big things:

World Vision started with one man trying to help one child in one country with just $5. Today, the organization helps more than four million children in nearly one hundred countries.

Habitat for Humanity International was founded in 1976 by Millard and Linda Fuller. They developed a concept focused on those in need working side by side with volunteers to build simple, affordable, decent houses. Since 1976, Habitat has helped 6.8 million people get into their own homes.

I learned about the Jesse Rees Foundation through a TV segment. I was blown away by this unselfish young girl. Twelve-year-old Jesse fought two brain tumors over the course of ten months before that battle ended on January 5, 2012, when she moved from her earthly home to the one waiting for her in heaven. Jessie learned that many children who have cancer are unable to leave the hospital, and she wanted to make their stay a little easier. So, she started filling paper bags with her own toys to give to those children. That kind gesture grew into JoyJars with the message to “Never Give Up” (NEGU). Jessie personally sent over 3,000 JoyJars to kids. Her parents carry on with purpose and are active participants in the Jesse Rees foundation. As of today, over 80,000 JoyJars have been filled and sent to children in hospitals in over twenty-seven countries.

Pretty impressive, right?

But here’s the thing …

We have our own messages. We each have a job to do.

So, let’s be dominos.

Maybe we’re supposed to knock over the first domino with an idea or an action that doesn’t take much energy. Maybe we’re farther down the line. Wherever we’re located, let’s avoid stopping momentum. Our very purpose in helping create something big—and positive—may be connected to that very thing.

Get ready! Get set! Go! Knock over that domino.

Is there a domino you need to push over? What’s stopping you from giving it a little shove?


This simple YouTube video explains the physics of the domino effect. 


  1. I love this, Dawn. You've captured the power of positive domino effect really well. Thanks for posting.

    1. Thanks for your comments, Mary. You always encourage me with your visits! It's helpful to know that you enjoyed it. :)

  2. Loved this, Dawn. So true. It's amazing how a kind word or nice gesture makes a person want to do the same.

    1. Thanks for visiting, Gail! Yes,just as a negative comment can ruin someone's day or attitude, a kind or positive word can bolster someone's confidence and put a smile on one's face. And there's a good chance that person will reach out and do the same for someone else. :-)


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