The Best Present You Can Give this Year – Be the positive influence
Now more than ever, our friends and family are struggling with an overwhelming influx of negativity, whether it be in the news, social media, or face-to-face interactions. We can either join them in this downward spiral, or we can be the positive influence that shifts the conversation and the energy. We can be the example of finding gratitude, being more patient, showing more tolerance, seeing the good. . . at our holiday gatherings, at work, at home, and in our communities.
A great strategy is to be the one who initiates the conversation or topic on a positive note. For example, instead of asking people how they are, point out something you’re feeling grateful for and then ask, “How about you? What are you grateful for?” Or you could bring up a past fun experience you both shared and reminisce about the good memories.
These efforts don’t just increase our own mood and wellbeing; they have a strong effect on those around us because of things like social and emotional contagion. In a nutshell, human beings tend to influence and copy one another. In fact, studies have revealed that this contagion can impact people’s weight, smoking, alcohol consumption, loneliness, divorce, and tastes in music, books, and movies. The great news is we can take advantage of this effect to be a positive influence.
So give a present of positivity this season by being the light that lifts people up, helping them focus on the good and all they have to be grateful for. Research shows that this influence actually ripples beyond our immediate interactions. Professors at UC San Diego and Harvard Medical School summarized it by stating, “Happiness is a network phenomenon, clustering in groups of people that extend up to three degrees of separation (for example, to one’s friends’ friends’ friends).”
Tina Hallis, Ph.D., is a positivity speaker, trainer, and founder of The Positive Edge, a company dedicated to teaching organizations and individuals the power of positivity to improve the quality of people’s work lives and the quality of company cultures.