I’ve got some news for you! You’re contagious!
Have you experienced a time when a friend started giggling for some unknown reason? You start to question their sanity, and yet curiously you begin to feel the urge to let out a small chuckle yourself. That chuckle soon gives way to a large grin, and before you know it you’re both cackling away for no real reason.
Our emotions are contagious. Psychologists call this phenomenon emotional contagion, a three-step process through which one person's feelings transfer to another person.
The first stage involves nonconscious mimicry, during which individuals subconsciously copy one another's nonverbal cues. The second is the feedback stage: because you frowned, you now feel sad. And finally, in the last stage individuals share their experiences until their emotions and behaviours become synchronised. Have you ever noticed when you encounter a friend on a bad day, you may unknowingly pick up their nonverbal behaviours and begin to morph into an unhappy state? Mimicry, however, is not always bad; a person can also adopt a friend’s good mood!
As Christians, we are called to be contagious. We are called to influence the world around us. Matthew 5 talks about how we are to be like salt, where even the smallest pinch can spread into an entire meal, enhancing its flavour. In much the same way, we are like light, where even a pin light in the darkness can illuminate the things around it.
We are called to be contagious as the salt and light of this world. God seasons our situations with His abundance and grace and lights our life with His wisdom and joy. It is through God that we are transformed into the kind of people that others want to be around—salty, lit up, and completely contagious. It’s through what God has given to us that we can be generous to others.
A story comes to mind of a friend who recently decided to pay for a stranger’s fuel. The stranger was so blessed by the gesture that he contacted the local newspaper to share his experience. Through the newspaper this simple act of generosity was shared with more people than my friend would have ever thought possible! His act of generosity was contagious and spread!
We don’t always know the effect a simple act of generosity can have on others, just from who we are and what we have in the moment. I’ve found when we shine a generous heart before others, not only does it bring God glory, but it is contagious to all those who experience it and see it. The change it brings in one individual’s life today may bring change to another generation tomorrow.
We are all called to be contagiously generous! Is what you have worth catching?