Gandhi said it well: “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”
It’s hard to ignore that there is a great deal of craziness happening in our world today, and many of us feel helpless. We yearn for change but don’t know where to start. There is a way: You can become a force with emotional contagion.
Emotional contagion is a psychological phenomenon, in which people “catch” other people’s feelings. When someone is being a good, authentic human being, it’s an attractive force. Studies show that a part of our brains connects with positive emotion, and when we come into contact with this, we want to emulate it.
Here are three things to practice to become a positive emotional contagion and lead others to do the same.
1. Conspicuous Kindness
Don’t be afraid to be public with your kindness. Research shows that when people witness conspicuous kindness for no apparent reason, it increases neurochemicals in the brain and body that augment confidence, happiness, a sense of security and a desire to do this for someone else.
According to Harvard research, the average person today is present in the moment only about half of the time. Why? Because they are either living in past regret—thinking of things they could or should have done differently—or in future fear, anticipating that something is going to go wrong. The result is chronic, low-grade sadness. One way to practice presence: Make eye contact with others. Dedicate yourself to putting down your phone, lifting up your eyes and being in the moment, and you’ll create a chemical and emotional reaction that is both healing and hopeful.
We often think of courage as being fearless and ego-based. The root of it, however, comes from the Latin word coeur, which means heart. Real courage means showing up wholeheartedly for yourself and others. By being publicly loving, kind and generous, you naturally open your heart and will be seen as a beautiful, courageous human that others will want to emulate.
Dr. James Rouse has a doctorate in naturopathic medicine. He is an inspirational speaker, personal coach, author and the cofounder of Skoop, a line of powdered superfoods.