Am I Contagious?
In the blog on yawning, I already drew attention to the power empathy may have. Where seeing other people yawn triggers your body to most likely to yawn as well. Reading The Art of People by Dave Kerpen also made me familiar with the concept “mirror neurons”. Kerpen describes in the book why having a good mood goes a long way. In this blog, I would like to share with you my findings and thoughts on catching feelings. I will take you on a trip to answer what is on my mind: am I contagious?
The definition of mirror neurons going around on the internet is that they are a type of brain cell that fires when you do an action, as well as simply watching someone else do the same action. Mirror neurons observe and record in detail among others the facial expressions of people, their body language, movements of pupils, and vocal tones. These mirror neurons thus help us understand the emotional states of others and learn by imitation.
With our mirror neurons working in a similar way when we do something ourselves or watching someone do it and the level of observing, feelings start to become contagious. The short answer to the question “are feelings contagious?” is thus: yes.
So, that triggers the second question for me. How to avoid catching negative feelings? Actively avoiding people that you know will be negative is one option. This is by the way also the most common option that I have found googling regarding this question. There is no need to feel guilty as a vast majority tends to advise that you should hang out with happy people only. I can’t help but wonder what this will do the negative minded. Should they start a club and are they doomed to a negative spiral?
On to other options that are more realistic and somewhat more idealistic. Wouldn’t the world just be a better place if we were all happy? The only people I can think of for who that would work out negatively are therapists, but I am sidetracking. On to those other options that I have come across browsing the internet and learned from personal experience:
Provide people with solutions when people are stuck and no longer able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Tip: Only do this if someone is open to that, it may just blow up in your own face.
Learn from the Stoics. By making sure you are happy and independent of your surroundings, this will eventually rub off on them too.
Joke, again with the necessary precautions of course. I feel that laughing even when you are at rock bottom and cannot imagine life could get worse is a great way to turn things around. Getting to that first smile and laugh is what you need to turn things around.
Label the emotion that someone is feeling, keeping that to yourself obviously. This will allow you to distance yourself from it and pause your reaction to it. This will still allow you to transfer some of your positivity in the process.
Are you contagious? In a good or bad way? Should you be starting a club? or are you ready to help others see the bright side of life?