Attitudes Are Contagious

I recently made the choice to stop contributing on Over the Big Moon.  While I loved the opportunity to add to their website, I felt that I needed to focus more on our family and my recent health concerns.  I would still like to share those past posts here on my own site.  This post below was published back in March, which explains why I still reference being pregnant within the text.  I hope you enjoy!  This is one of my favorite posts and I was glad I had the chance to read it again!

I was skimming through a couple of my books this past week to read the highlighted portions.  I came across one line in a book that stated that courage was contagious and then another book wrote of confidence being contagious.  I nodded in agreement; my own life having been impacted by another’s confidence and courage that they had showed in theirs.  Then, I thought to look up some quotes about these attitudes being contagious.  It turns out, according to a Google search, kindness is contagious too, as is fear, creativity, enthusiasm, cruelty and the list goes on.  Apparently, we are a contagious sort of people.  
There was this one quote though that summed it up, “Attitudes are contagious.  Are yours worth catching?”  The irony of the quote is that it was said by two people.  I had yet to see a quote credited to two people until this one.  I imagined a husband and wife sitting in the same room and the thought must have been so contagious that they both uttered the words simultaneously.  The idea makes me giggle to myself.
I could wrap this post up right now with this poignant quote and call it a day, but I think it’s worth discussing the influence our attitudes can have on those around us.  As I mentioned above, I witnessed the attitudes of courage and confidence in others and it made a significant impact in my life.  Particularly, the attitude of courage.  
About two years ago, I lived in Southern California.  I had plans to spend the rest of my days there.  Most all of my friends and family lived in a 50 mile radius.  It was home.  Unfortunately, it was taking a greater toll on me to live there than I had realized.  The financial strains of the high cost of living, the fast paced life, and the overpopulation were wearing on me.  I felt that a move out of the state would be helpful, but I didn’t have the courage to leave everything I knew behind.  Certainly, there were several reasons that eventually made our out-of-state-move possible, but one of the big ones was the courage of a dear couple whom I admire greatly.  This couple had lived in my hometown for over thirty years and raised their kids in the same home that entire time.  Their home was the type where one always felt welcomed.  Two summers ago, with all of their children grown, they sold their home and moved to Utah.  As I joined in a couple gatherings to say farewell to this amazing couple, I sat back and witnessed the courage it was taking for the wife, particularly, to leave the “home” she had known behind.  But I saw that it was not the end of the world.  I guess I subconsciously thought it would be the end of the world for me if I moved, as it would be the end of the only world I had known up until that point.  The attitude of courage among this couple was indeed contagious.  Saying goodbye to them was one more piece to the puzzle that was coming together for us to move our lives out-of-state.  It was the piece of courage.  Courage that I so desperately needed.  Courage that brought us to a place that I now lovingly call home.
For every positive attitude that gets passed along in our daily actions, there is also the negative that we can, perhaps unintentionally, put out there.  I know this is certainly the case in our own home.  These past couple days are a perfect example.  I have been stressed out and trying to deal with the aches and pains that come with pregnancy.  While I’ve tried to keep my patience, my attitude has been less than positive and upbeat.  In fact, I have been rude and unkind.  My kids got the brunt of it.  My eldest, who soaks up my mood like a sponge, started to get sassy and then overly emotional.  Hmmmm.  I wonder where she got that from?  Oh yeah, ME!  Like the stomach bug that quickly spreads through an entire household, my poor attitude was picked up and passed along until everyone in the home was on edge.  It was like an epidemic and, regretfully, I was at the heart of it.
Attitudes are contagious whether we want them to be or not.  Just like a child is more likely to catch a stomach bug that’s spreading through a home than an adult, they’re also more likely to catch our poor attitude.  My guess is that it’s because a child is not going to break down our behavior and cut us some slack.  It will simply be, “Mom’s being mean.  I’m going to be mean.”  It’s not malicious, it’s just the nature of things.  Whereas, my husband may be more inclined to think things through with, “Sara seems on edge.  I wonder what’s really bothering her or if she’s feeling OK?”  Having patience with our children, during those moments when our negative attitudes start being thrown back at us, can help prevent added angst.  We need to understand that we have the opportunity to spread the attitude of joy or contention to those we come in contact with daily. Of course, be realistic.  We should not be expected to exude enthusiasm at all points in our day.  Our children need to understand that the downs happen too.  But we don’t need to dwell in those downs.  I had the opportunity this past week to recognize my poor attitude and strive to change it for the better for the sake of our home.
Tuesday was a particularly busy morning and it seemed that my daughter was needier than usual.  I kept trying to concentrate on a task and she kept asking me 101 questions.  I grew impatient and snapped at her.  She was just bored and wanted to make a snowflake.  A snowflake that would have resulted in me making it, which I felt too busy to do at the time.  When I completed my task, she had already given up on trying to get my attention.  I realized that I had been a grump and took my stress out on her unnecessarily.  I went and made her the best paper snowflake that I could and apologized to her for being a grouch.  I did my best for the rest of the day to be kinder and not dwell in my low.  I wasn’t perfect, but my sincere apology must have left an impression, as she mentioned multiple times through out the day, “It’s okay if you’re a grouch, Mom.”  I suppose the attitude of forgiveness may be contagious too.
Let us all reflect on the attitudes we are carrying around and ask ourselves if it’s something we want our children, our loved ones, and our communities to catch.  The best part about sending out positive attitudes is that their contagious nature results in them coming back our way.  What a beautiful gift to give the world and ourselves; that of a positive attitude.
Continue reading…
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