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Are You Contagious?

It could be a good thing if you are!

You are a positive person, but when you see the word 'contagious', you think of bad things, don't you? When we check the dictionary, it says that the word contagious means "likely to spread or affect others." Let's think about a couple of examples:


When you see someone yawn, you are drawn into it and you either also yawn, or you work to stifle one, right? Yawns are contagious. Even talking about one can bring forth the temptation to do it. Contagious yawning is a sign of empathy and a form of social bonding.


Or what about laughing or giggling? When a group of people are laughing, you can't help laughing as well. You can even test this yourself: start laughing (for no reason) with some friends. Laugh loudly and with enthusiasm — in moments, they will also be laughing. Laughing is contagious. It seems that it’s absolutely true that ‘laugh and the whole world laughs with you.’


There are other behaviors that are well-documented as being contagious.

Research has found that when we’re with a person and they smile, we’re likely to ‘try on’ that facial expression to get a sense of how they’re feeling. This natural phenomenon of facial mimicry allows us to not only empathize with others, but to actually experience their emotions for ourselves.


The same instinct that leads us to smile when others do also gives us the impulse to turn down the corners of our mouths when we see someone else frown. Yes, facial mimicry applies to frowns, too (and even grimaces!). You may not necessarily form a full frown in response to someone else, but there’s a good chance that your facial muscles will move slightly in that direction.


Contagiousness is exactly what the Care and Kindness Campaign is all about. We want it to spread, we want it to affect others — just as it says in the definition above. When you smile at people, it can start a domino effect that will touch people far beyond the one who received your smile.


It may not take my encouragement for you to share in the laughter with others, or to share in their frowns, but I ask you to think about how you can be more contagious. Smiling is more than just being nice, or being pleasant. It is an act of kindness that can spread out like a ripple. Make a more conscious effort to smile at people. Think about being positively contagious.

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