: a substance that causes a chemical reaction to happen more quickly
: an agent that provokes or speeds significant change or action



Catalyst (n.): “substance which speeds a chemical reaction but itself remains unchanged,” 1902, formed in English (on analogy of analyst) from catalysis.

Catalysis (n.): 1650s, “dissolution,” from Latinized form of Greek katalysisa dissolving” (of government, military units, etc.), from kata– “down” (or “completely”), + lyeinto loosen.” Chemical sense “change caused by an agent which remains unchanged” is attested from 1836, introduced by Swedish chemist Jons Jakob Berzelius.



“After all, the ordinary hero hiding in each of us is often the most powerful catalyst for change.”

Tate Taylor (b. 1969, age 45, American actor, screenwriter, film producer, and director; best known for directing The Help and Get on Up)

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“I am personally convinced that one person can be a change catalyst, a ‘transformer’ in any situation, any organization. Such an individual is yeast that can leaven an entire loaf. It requires vision, initiative, patience, respect, persistence, courage, and faith to be a transforming leader.”

Stephen R. Covey (1932-2012, American educator, author, businessman, and keynote speaker; most known for writing The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People)

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“The power of a bold idea uttered publicly in defiance of dominant opinion cannot be easily measured. Those special people who speak out in such a way as to shake up not only the self-assurance of their enemies, but the complacency of their friends, are precious catalysts for change.”

Howard Zinn (1922-2010, American historian, playwright, and social activist)

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“Homelessness is not just an isolated social evil. It is the catalyst and the breeding ground for other problems such as marriage difficulties and family breakup, stress, unemployment and alcoholism.”

Eva Burrows (1929-2012, Australian Salvation Army Officer, serving from 1951-1993 until her retirement)

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“Painful as it may be, a significant emotional event can be the catalyst for choosing a direction that serves us – and those around us – more effectively. Look for the learning.”

Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888, American novelist and poet best known as the author of the novel Little Women and its sequels Little Men and Jo’s Boys)

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“God bless us everyone
We're a broken people living under loaded gun
And it can't be outfoght
It can't be outdone
It can't out matched
It can't be outrun

Linkin Park (American rock band from Agoura Hills, California, formed in 1996)

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“Every love story needs a catalyst of some sort.”

Ian Somerhalder (American actor, model, and director)

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“Yes, exercise is the catalyst. That’s what makes everything happen: your digestion, your elimination, your sex life, your skin, hair everything about you depends on circulation. And how do you increase circulation?

Jack LaLanne (1914-2011, American fitness, exercise, nutritional expert, and motivational speaker who is sometimes called, “the godfather of fitness.)

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I traveled half way around the world by myself at the age of 19 to receive a full year’s scholarship to study Mandarin Chinese in Taiwan Normal University. I knew no one and not a stitch of Mandarin.   It was a bold move to my father’s chagrin. But when I arrived I knew I was over my head and out of balanced with fear.

It took me a few months, but eventually I connected with wholehearted people of like minds, both Chinese and American. Thanks to the help of my father who cornered a Taiwanese businessman and implored this man to look in on his daughter.

Before I developed quick trusted friends, I had to come to terms that I was traveling alone and was quite lost.  So, I did what I always I could do and found a place of worship.  Even though I wasn’t Buddhist faith something lead me to wander into a temple in the middle of the City.

The temple was extremely crowded so I pressed on until I came to a prayer room of sorts where others were in meditation and roaming about.

In the far corner of the room stood a young man. He walked over and asked me in English if I wanted to see the Dalai Lama. My mind couldn’t compute what he was asking me. I asked, “Here in Taiwan, right now?” The young man said, “Yes, I’ll go get him for you.”

Out comes a man that doesn’t look at all like the international acclaimed 14th Dalai Lama. But, instead this man looked very much like the late Mahatma Gandhi. He was thin like Gandhi and was wrapped loosely with a white cloth around his body.

The man looked directly at and then right through me as if he could read my thoughts. He then walked to the middle of the room and sat gracefully on the floor crossing his legs. I kneeled before him unsure of what to say. He then spoke and took my hand. I became overcome with emotion and before I knew it I was laying in his arms and crying like a baby.

I don’t know how long I was there, but it seemed like an eternity, as if I was back in the womb. Time stopped for me. I know it now as a quantum moment time.

My life changed after that encountered. I became less fearful, more courageous, and found a slew of friends and protectors.

That beautiful holy man was one of the great change agents of my life. And all he did was allowed me to cry. He opened me up to unconditional love. Because of him I became more aware and more loving, and also learned to be a change agent in my own right, mostly through kindness, compassion, a listening ear, and other simple forms of connection.

In what ways can we all be catalysts for positive change, in big and small ways?

Always Seeking Wonders and Adventures, Tonya



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