[Adjective; ~ Pronunciation: /in-fek-shuh s/]
- Definition: One’s state of happiness can be contagious, whether it is a positive state of well-being or a more depressed one. As with anything, negativity seems to be more infectious than happiness. Or is it?
“Love one another and help others to rise to the higher levels, simply by pouring out love. Love is infectious and the greatest healing energy”
– Sai Baba of Shirdi –
This week someone shared the “apple theory” of his mother with me. She’d always told him: “If you put a rotten apple between healthy ones, soon all the good apples will be infected, too. But put one healthy apple in between a bowl of bad ones and the rotten ones won’t get better.”
There are several ways to interpret this theory:
Bad memories and experiences weigh heavier on us than their positive counterparts.
In psychology (and sociology) it is known that negative life experiences have a stronger hold on us than positive ones. It’s probably to do with the feeling of loss, failure, and sadness that are more easily remembered than (extreme) delight. One negative thought triggers another one, which triggers another one, and before you know it your whole fruit bowl of healthy apples that is your mind has turned brown and down.
It’s easier to convert to a negative point of view when surrounded by a (growing group of) pessimist(s), than to turn a group of pessimists into optimists.
Maybe this is also due to the first point of negativity weighing heavier on our shoulders than positivity (maybe that’s why people talk about enlightenment!). Picture yourself in a group of sad people and you know that before the day’s gone by you’ll be down yourself. Picture yourself in a group of happy people and imagine one gloomy person joins in. It only takes one bad mood to potentially change the whole ambience of a get-together for the worse.
Sometimes giving up is the only way out.
I can’t help myself, but I feel sorry for the second apple, the one that is put between his rotten peers. Because he has no chance of getting out of there alive (or, well, healthy). So, maybe the lesson here is that sometimes the best thing you can do is not to try and change the people around you, but just pick your own health and happiness over theirs before you get infected with their disease called pessimism. Giving up is not a sign of weakness: sometimes it’s a sign of strength.
I think happiness and optimism are infectious, too. Some people have a very infectious laugh, for instance. And think of all the times someone cheered you up when you felt sad. Who didn’t feel better after a comforting hug?
Maybe it’s just a matter of time: negativity has the advantage of working quicker and leaving deep wounds fast. But positivity, even though it takes longer to obtain, has a longer lifespan and a soothing talent to help you heal the wounds inflicted by negativity.
Basically, both negativity and positivity are infectious. Negativity has a stronger hold on us, but once we free ourselves from its shackles we are infected by positivity.
Or maybe we just need to experience the former in order to appreciate the latter.
Whatever it is, make sure you do not surround yourself with rotten apples. They are not good for your health (pun!).