I could hear the baby crying all the way outside. I walked into the house where my mother and sister, holding her screaming baby, were both tense, frustrated. My mother had a look of absolute exhaustion and total resignation on her face.

I took the baby, patted him, whispered to him, cuddled him. He quieted in a few minutes.

I remember the first time I did it. My sister was almost angry. “How can she do that?” she asked my exhausted mother. “He picks up on what we’re feeling”, she said. “She’s not tense and upset, and he feels that. It calms him”.

My mother was my first Life Coach. She knew what Daniel Goleman (Emotional Intelligence) taught me many years later. Emotions are contagious.

I’m sure you’ve already experienced it. Think of a time when you went into work, or caught up with a friend (spouse, parent, sibling) when you were feeling happy and s/he was grouchy or tense. Did it result in you changing to be more blue and unhappy?

Or on the positive side, a naturally happy person can get tense group of people to lighten up with a bit of laughter.

As my mother noted, it becomes a loop, what s/he’s feeling jumps to you, and what you feel jumps to others, or back to him again. In the right (or wrong) circumstance, it can be a downward spiral, until everyone around you is feeling the same blue, grouchy mood, just as when the baby had mother and sister tense and tired, and the more tense and tired they became the more unhappy and upset the baby became. .

It’s impossible to leave your emotions at home when you go to work - or when you come home from work. You’re tired, angry at the boss, stressed from a long day. You pick up the kids and within minutes they’re whiny, irritated, frustrated at the smallest thing.

Parents and children, spouses, friends, boss and employee can all "catch" emotions from each other.

So what can you do now that you know emotions are contagious?
1. Learn to recognize your own emotions, and other’s emotions, and notice their affect on people.
2. Learn to build up an insulation to be able to tolerate negative emotion without it dragging you down with it.
3. You can’t decide what you feel, but you can decide how you act. In other words, just because you “catch” someone’s frustration, you can still contain it.
4. Lead with positive emotions, and influence yourself as well as others.
5. Surround yourself with positive people, so that you “catch” their positive emotions.

Just think. You are capable of spreading either happiness or grouchiness. You can’t choose what you feel, but you *can* choose how you respond. Now, will you approach each emotional exchange with a different viewpoint, a different attitude? I hope so.

Author's Bio: 

Ready for a life you actually enjoy!? It can be learned! Professional Life Coach Kathy Gates specializes in helping people who are ready to create a simpler, less stressful, more joyful and meaningful lifestyle. Visit www.reallifecoach.com for information, products and services, and sign up for a free newsletter.