Emotions are contagious

One of the many nuggets of wisdom that’s stuck with me since my Dare to Lead training in May, is that anxiety is the most contagious emotion…which implies that, if one emotion is the MOST contagious, other emotions must also be contagious.

So let’s assume that to be true. If emotions are contagious, the natural question is: “Which emotions do you want to spread?”

For me, my answer is courageous, curious, powerful, respectful.

Like every human, I experience a wide variety of emotions. There’s value in experiencing all of them; but when I specifically think about the ones that I want to spread, those 4 stand out.

A few months ago I wrote about calling a thing a thing. The image I shared was that of the Feelings Wheel that was developed by Dr. Gloria Willcox. This wheel, and the power of naming your emotions, is what helped me get clarity on the emotions I want to spread.

So how do you spread an emotion?

Let’s look at courageous first. When I think about spreading courage, I think about having difficult conversations with the people who matter. I think about questioning every single judgment I make; and I think about being clear with my boundaries and needs.

Curiosity is a fun one. When there’s a subject I’m interested in, I love to learn about it. These days I’m spreading curiosity by doing my own anti-racism work and unlearning a lot of things I’ve been taught and have assumed.

Powerful. Does this word give you pause? My friend Jo Casey just wrote a beautiful Instagram post about power and I echo many of her sentiments. We’re not talking about power over, rather power within. I power within when I don’t avoid difficult things; when I stand in my truth, and when I amplify that first emotion of courage.

Respectful. The absolute easiest way to spread this emotion is by wearing a mask. I respect my fellow humans, particularly the most vulnerable, enough to do so.

In a time when so many things feel so far out of our control, looking at this concept of emotions being contagious has felt really grounding. When I can tap into the ones I want to spread, and take action, it feels like a tiny bit of good is being put into the world.

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