You often hear the word contagious. Usually, there is a negative connotation associated with it. For example, during this worldwide pandemic, we wear masks because of the contagion of COVID. As a child, I recall people using that utterance regularly regarding diseases such as chickenpox, measles, and the mumps. Yet, the word itself does not have to mean spreading a disease. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, their fourth definition includes “similar exciting emotions or conduct in others.” They give examples such as “contagious enthusiasm” and “contagious laughter.” I, humbly, would like to add contagious positivity. Not only that, I want to invite people to “bring it on” with vim and vigor.
Many are familiar with the 2013 Gallup Poll regarding the status of the American worker, which I describe in detail in my book, Stop Depriving The World of You. Without revisiting the entire matter, the bottom line is that Gallup hypothesized the doubling of the workforce if managers and supervisors applied a more positive approach with their subordinates. Is this a surprise? Not to those of us who are in the people business. Yet, hostile work environments ensue. For those who refuse to embrace this philosophy, excuses abound: “Ignore them,” or “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” How about: “They are visionaries or good at their craft so…” Yes, excuses feed into the cultivation of negativity in the workplace.
Some are beginning to see the benefits of changing behavior. Not long ago, I read an article based on a small study. The premise stated that mindful management creates happy employees. Again, those who practice mindfulness techniques become more aware of their behavior. Thus, they reveal a change in their attitude, which positively affects their employees, an example of the contagion of positivity.
Words of Positivity
The adage, “honey works better than vinegar,” never goes out of fashion. The power of this message is wise but straightforward in its meaning. Ask anyone how a simple statement of positivity can be memorable. Whether it be a pleasant conversation, a compliment, or, as I frequently state, acknowledging those who may feel invisible, the impact may be potent. I am involved in these experiences regularly. At times, I am delighted by some complimentary shoutout from a virtual friend. The effect of words, even virtually, can create a powerful contagion. When you send out, you also receive.
By spreading positivity, not only can the recipient experience a rush of positivity, but the sender may also. With this reverberation, contagious positivity is on full display.
Speaking of words, how else might you begin to grow positivity? What about sharing a story? For children and adults alike, unforgettable narratives are often the vehicles to embed complimentary messages. Cloaking lessons within a riveting plot can promote a constructive outcome. Fairy Tales especially endure because ”happily ever after” holds such value. They encourage positivity even when there is a struggle along the way.
How about thoughtful expressions in the form of poetry? This ancient manifestation of the verse can lift spirits. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s glorious poem, “A Psalm of Life,” has that power. To me, the words are so significant, I memorized the lyrics and recited the poem at my mother’s eulogy. I am not alone in being mesmerized by its meaning. Sometime after publishing this poem, Longfellow was approached by someone who said the majestic stanzas prevented him from committing suicide. Talk about having a positive effect! Thankfully, this ageless piece is available for anyone who wishes to absorb the message, which is about the reality of life. No wonder it is one of the most translated poems in the world.
Begin With You
Various mechanisms can evoke positivity, including self-examination and a desire to make and bring positive change. For some, this exercise is more comfortable than for others. Still, if one gives it a try and persists, this fantastic feeling can begin to take root and become perennial.
There are so many ways to elicit the feeling of positivity. The beginning may seem small, but that is all it may take. By sending signals of positivity, you are contributing to its contagion. Again, bring it on!
I invite you to consider your thoughts about spreading positivity. Have you noticed its effect on you or others when one person puts a positive spin on something? Please share.