The Happiness Connection  

Do your emotions go viral?

Some of you may use Facebook or another social media platform so you can keep in touch with friends and family. You don’t care about reaching an audience of thousands.

But if you are a business owner, or lover of the spotlight, you may think that the more people who see you, the better.

If you are part of the latter category, you may dream of one of your posts going viral.

If you aren’t sure what that means, think about cold and flu viruses. They have the uncanny knack of spreading rapidly from person to person. That is exactly what it means to go viral.

Information, gossip, or social media posts that go viral, spreads rapidly from person to person. Germs and social media posts aren’t the only things that can go viral. Did you realize that emotions can do the same thing?

Emotional contagion is the phenomenon of having the moods of one person trigger similar emotions and behaviours in the people around them.

If you have ever worked with someone who is constantly negative and complaining, you may have seen this in action.

The atmosphere may have been optimistic, even jovial until this person appears and begins to complain. Before you know it, everyone is feeling disgruntled and dissatisfied.

This is emotional contagion in action.

Some people are more susceptible than others to catching the moods of people around them. These individuals are more likely to feel rapid shifts in emotions as they engage in different social interactions.

Research shows that both positive and negative emotions spread between people like a super-virus, but that negative feelings are usually more infectious that positive ones. Studies also show that humans react more strongly to bad things, than to good ones.

If you think about it, this makes perfect evolutionary sense.

In primitive times, finding food and avoiding predators were both vitally important skills if you wanted to survive, but one of them was more important than the other.

For the most part, the need to escape danger outweighs the need for food. You can miss a meal or two and live to tell the tale, but being caught by a predator means the end of your life. If humans were pulled toward a desire for food more strongly than they were pushed to avoid danger, we might not be here now.

The negative emotions that accompany danger need to be stronger than the positive emotions that come with eating and drinking, if we want to avoid extinction. That programming still exists in us today.

You are more likely to feel a stronger level of repulsion to something you hate, than pleasure to something you love.

It is all about survival, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do anything about limiting the spread of negative emotions.

Your first step is to be aware that you are being affected by the feelings of others. Once you recognize that you have picked up someone else’s adverse mood, try one of the following strategies.

  • Counter the bad emotions with good ones of your own. Remember positive emotions are also contagious. Use that knowledge to your advantage.
  • For each negative statement made, try smiling broadly. Smiling is also contagious.
  • Distance yourself from the person, or people in question. This isn’t always possible, but sometimes the best course of action is being too far away from negativity to be affected by it.

Don’t always assume that someone else is the root of the negative emotions. Stop and consider whether you are the person whose bad mood is affecting others.

If this is the case, either take steps to improve your mood, or give other people some space until your negativity subsides.

The next time you are involved in emotions going viral, make sure they are the type of emotions you are proud to share. 

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About the Author

Reen Rose is an experienced, informative, and engaging speaker, author, and educator. She has worked for over three decades in the world of education, teaching children and adults in Canada and England.

Research shows that happy people are better leaders, more successful, and healthier than their unhappy counterparts, and yet so many people still believe that happiness is a result of their circumstances.

Happiness is a choice. Reen’s presentations and workshops are designed to help you become robustly happy. This is her term for happiness that can withstand challenge and change.

Reen blends research-based expertise, storytelling, humour, and practical strategies to both inform and inspire. She is a Myers Briggs certified practitioner, a Microsoft Office certified trainer and a qualified and experienced teacher.

Email Reen at [email protected]

Check out her websites at www.ReenRose.com, or www.ModellingHappiness.com

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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