I have had a severe cold for several weeks, but that is not what has me feeling bad right now. Now that my cold is subsiding, what I feel awful about is the fact that I just learned that I infected several other people with my cold. I was careless about being out in public interacting with others, when I clearly should have been home recovering. I greatly minimized how contagious I was because I didn’t want to interrupt my regular routines.

I don’t think I am alone in saying it is a good thing when we are all more conscious about how we affect others, and about what we are spreading when we interact with others. And here I am not just talking about physical colds and viruses, as we can easily spread emotional viruses like fear, anger, anxiety, and stress as well, without being conscious of the fact that we are doing so.

When one of my friends told me that they were pretty sure they caught their cold from me, my response was, “I am so sorry. That is the last thing I intended to have happen.” That was an honest response, and I am very sorry, and of course I never intended to infect others with my cold. But the lesson I have learned from this is that it is simply not enough to say I had no intention of infecting others. The truth is that what I needed to have adopted when I was sick was a conscious intention not to spread my cold to others.

If a person chronically dumps their stress (or their cold or flu) on the people around them, it is probably the case that they are not intending to bring the people around them down, but that is still likely what will happen. Only when that person makes the intention to work positively to relieve their stress (or cold) will positive change occur and will others have a better chance of not becoming infected.

The important thing to remember is that our moods, like our illnesses, are contagious. Negative mindsets that include sarcasm, cynicism and bad moods are often contagious. The good news is that on the other hand a positive mindset, one that includes joy, peace, humor, love, optimism, and happiness is also contagious. We can as just as easily “infect” people around us with our positive mindset as we can with our negative mindset.

During this flu and cold season, where everyone seems to be spreading something around, I can think of no better way to sum up what I learned than with the words of author Germany Kent.

How to change the world:

• spread positivity

• bring people up instead of dragging them down

• treat others the way you wish to be treated

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