Contagious emotions -What do I bring when I walk into a room?

I have always liked to reflect, ponder and discuss. Recently I have done especially much of that. I have talked with my friends for example about what we bring into a room when we walk in. Here I am not speaking of proper objects or useful skillsets, but rather of energy, atmosphere and emotions. What do you bring with you when you walk into a room? New perspectives, warmth, optimism, positive energy - or perhaps a discouraged atmosphere?

Research has shown that emotions are often contagious. For instance BrainCraft’s video “Are Your Emotions Contagious?” points out that we tend to subconsciously catch each other’s feelings. That is why negative and positive emotions can cause quite the epidemic in one’s immediate surroundings. I am sure that most of us can think of someone who spreads joy and a supportive atmosphere around him and her. On the other hand, I also suspect that many of us are able to identify an individual who constantly spreads discouragement and negativity. This happens everywhere; in schools, at home and in offices around the world. In other words, our emotions are not solely our own. Our emotions don’t only influence our own mood but also that of others. And when you really think of that – it is quite a responsibility.

Maaria Tirri

As a form of empathy, humans tend to mimic and match moods, facial expressions, and behavior. One of the nicest compliments I have ever heard from colleagues, friends and family is that I spread a warm and energetic atmosphere around me. As one can imagine, I am very happy to hear this – especially since it is something I have tried to work on. Yes, I happen to be an innate energetic optimist (sometimes irritatingly so) but I do also try to consciously spread positive energy around me. Because after all: why wouldn’t you want to make things easier and better for the people around you?

I try to be especially conscious of the emotions, vibes and feelings I spread when I enter the workplace. Since many people spend a large portion of their weekdays in an office interacting closely with others, the mood and feelings expressed there seem particularly important. As I wish to be surrounded by positive energy and cheerful emotions wherever I am, I also aim to offer the same luxury to others. The quote “be the change you wish to see in the world” does ring true in this case, as in many others.

So, should people who are feeling blue and dispirited force themselves to be Little Miss Sunshine around others? No. Everyone experiences ups and downs in their life and pretending to feel cheerful when the opposite is true, is beneficial to no-one. But being conscious of how one’s mood influences that of others is significant. This applies especially to those who are at every turn dampening the mood and spreading a negative mood around them. By being conscious of how easily emotions spread, one can perhaps re-think some harsh words spoken in anger or the pessimistic vibe one spreads at the coffee table. If given the choice, I would wager that most people want to lift others up, not drag them down. I for one do.

I was discussing New Year’s resolutions with two of my best friends. One of my friends told us that her goal for the year 2016 was to stop herself from discouraging others and dampening the atmosphere around her. I think that sounds like a great resolution. I hope it spreads around like wildfire.

Text: Maaria Tirri

Photo: Amanda Lehtola

Maaria Tirri is a content provider for Europass.

What emotions are you spreading: joy, excitement - or perhaps negativity? It can make all the difference.

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