Recent studies on emotional and social contagion have come up with interesting results:
- A leading predictor of obesity is our friends. If our friends gain weight, we are 171 percent more likely to gain weight as well.
- Employees who are depressed and burned out pass those moods on to their colleagues.
- A depressed friend can pass that mood on to you in just a 20-minute phone call if you start out the conversation in a neutral mood.
- If you live with someone, your moods can converge, so that there is less difference between you.
The workplace is a great example of mood contagion. We’ve all experienced how one angry or unhappy coworker can bring down the mood of an entire group. Studies keep showing that we are vulnerable to others’ bad moods. Not a happy thought if you hang out with the chronically unhappy.
So this week keep in mind that moods are contagious. We may not be able to avoid that, but we can be aware of what’s happening. We can stay away from the chronically unhappy and/or actively resist letting their bad moods spread to us. We take preventive measures to guard against colds and flus; the same can be true for contagious bad feelings as well. Here are some suggestions:
- When faced with someone who is always unhappy or angry, remind yourself that this probably has nothing to do with you, no matter how much the person might try to make it so. If you weren’t there, the person would be unhappy about someone or something else.
- When possible, remove yourself from places that make you stressed, even if it’s just for a fifteen-minute break.
- Fight back with humor. Just as bad moods can spread, so can good ones. Be a carrier of happiness and contentment.
We may not have control over others’ bad moods. But we do have control over ourselves. So make a decision today to start a happiness epidemic!