Contagious has been a term always associated with disease-cold, measles and strep throat are highly contagious and often in a classroom or at work we start sneezing in course of time when we have a friend/colleague suffering from a bad cold. That’s because these diseases spread easily via physical contact (Even touching or hugging) or when a person sneezes or coughs. But there are other infections and diseases such as Psoriasis and Poison ivy that seem to look bad but this doesn’t imply that they are contagious as well. Seeing a poison ivy rash might make your hands scratch but technically it does not spread even if you touch the patient’s rash or fluid that oozes out of it. But are diseases the only contagious things in this world? Absolutely not! You are in for a surprise when you look at the list of things that can spread from one person to the other and it is definitely not restricted to germs.
Emotions make us humane and every person has a different emotional quotient that defines him/her. In a wedding or a party there is an air of festivity, cheer, laughter and goodness whereas people seem concerned, bereaving and dull when one of their closed relatives/friends is ill or dying. These are common emotions that are shared based on circumstances but moods and behaviours too spread from person to person. It does strike many of us that yawning is something that often causes a ripple effect on people when one person starts to yawn. But there are other things that cause a similar effect and even research shows that traits and choices of our loved ones or friends of our dear ones can affect us.
Cascade of Emotions Causing A Ripple Effect Among Individuals
Happiness is indeed contagious. You automatically become happy when you are surrounded by a group of happy people who talk animatedly, sing, laugh and dance. As per a study conducted by researchers at Harvard and University of California happiness effect can be measured up to three degrees. A study on 5000 individuals showed that when one person is happy his/her friend living within 1.5 kilometres is 25% likelier to feel happy while neighbours are 34% likelier to feel happy. Though extra income or pocket money boosted happiness by 2% it was ultimately not good enough to surpass the joys of having a happy friend around who can boost your good feelings by as much as 10%. Laughing and smiling too are reciprocated. Join a laughter class and you are sure to start laughing amidst a group of people who treat laughter as an exercise. Simply too, when we hear someone laughing our brain responds to it by provoking laughter in us even when we did not hear the joke. “Smile, and the world smiles with you”. Research shows that being with people who smile makes us try the facial expression automatically.
Stressed out? Maybe your friend too might feel the same in a while. Watching someone handle stress (even on the television screen) makes you feel stressed out yourself. Our brains can detect stress in others and hence, triggers a cascade of our own stress hormones.
Positive and negative feelings are extremely contagious. Be positive with a promising outlook and I am sure that this doesn’t stop benefitting you but also spreads to your friend, friend’s friend and so on. At the same time, spending your valuable time with someone who always focuses on the negative aspects of life makes you feel the same and you start feeling exhausted and follow the same path as your negative-minded friend. A study conducted in the University of Notre Dame showed that first year students randomly paired with students who were highly prone to brooding were likely to catch their ‘negative’ style thinking in a short span of three months. This brings us to the important point of how people around us affect our thoughts, actions and outcomes. It is essential that you choose or stay with those people who increase your positive feelings and bring out your best in life.
Feeling cold? Research shows that looking at you might make someone else feel the same way. A study made participants watch two videos-in the first video someone’s hand was getting dipped in cold water and in the second video hands were dipped in warm water. After watching the video of cold water, the participants felt cold themselves and hence, it was proved without doubt that when you see someone shivering in front of you there is every possibility that you might end up feeling cold too. But feeling warm did not evoke the same feelings in any of the participants.
Gambling, smoking or even envy can be passed onto others easily. Seeing someone take big risks with betting lifts our spirits too making us bet high-risk ones too. Likewise, seeing your friend purchase a new pair of shoes or clothes makes you wish for one too. A study published in the Journal of Neuroscience found that people desired an object more if someone else wanted it too and the basis of this is none other than envy. Smoking too is contagious. We feel like taking a puff when someone smokes and quitting smoking too has the same ripple effect. Studies confirm that quitting smoking made friends and family members 36% less likely to smoke.
We are living in a world that significantly affects our emotions and well-being despite constant efforts from our end to ignore them. This is true unless and until the individual has no emotions or feelings for people around him/her. Hence, it depends on us entirely to distance ourselves from negative people, become friends with positive and happy people and spread happiness and optimism wherever we are.
Surprising Things that are Contagious: https://www.readersdigest.co.in/health-wellness/story-surprising-things-that-are-contagious-124253
7 Things that are Contagious and you had No Clue About: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/life-style/health-fitness/health-news/7-surprising-things-that-are-contagious-and-you-had-no-clue-about-it/photostory/66649130.cms?picid=66937732
7 Behaviours that are Actually Contagious, According to Science: https://www.huffingtonpost.in/entry/contagious-behaviors_n_56f400d7e4b04c4c37616ff4?ri18n=true
12 Things that you think are Contagious but Aren’t: https://www.rd.com/health/things-that-arent-contagious/
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.