A very interesting observation made by The Minimalists in their book ‘Everything That Remains’, and one that we tend to overlook.
“Someone yawns behind me, which triggers several more yawns among the crowd. Boredom is contagious.”
The global fear at this current blip in an ever expansive history is Ebola, and how nasty it is. Yes, keep on picturing those yellow or white hazmat ensemble complete with full head mask. Yet Ebola is not as contagious as many people are fearful of it being – your not going to catch it having a one off five minute conversation with someone in an airport for instance, as a nurse who has worked in infectious diseases I know that my safety rests on me taking the necessary precautions – but that’s for another time.
Meanwhile however in this western society, the infectious thing you should be most concerned with cannot be spread through droplets or drool, neither can it be spread from spew or poo. Instead it is spread through society like wild fire, from repeated exposure to people whose apathy about life – their life – has become somewhat a hobby for them. Except like an annoyingly executed marketing strategy, they keep repeating ‘but wait there’s more!’, until you too are lured into feeling the same way about your own life.
There is a simplistic truth to that saying ‘you are who you associate with’ and ‘you are the 5 people you spend the most time with’. It’s a little like walking up a mountain. You begin by carrying your own rock (your emotional ‘stuff’), but along the way people notice that you have a backpack and they put their ‘stuff’ in your back pack. Before you know it, they are on their merry way to the top whilst you are huffing and puffing, struggling under the weight of everyone else’s ‘stuff’. Not only that but you now don’t know which is your ‘stuff’ and which is not. Personally for me I have experienced this in my own life, when I spend too much time with people that struggle to get out of their own way, or I constantly see them posting ‘poor me’ statuses of the same content over and over again with no action to remedy. After a while I notice my own thought patterns begin to spiral downwards.
That’s not to say that I’m not responsible for how I feel and how I think. In fact over the past 12-18 months I have become more acutely aware of my emotions and thoughts and what impacts on them – hence giving me a greater control of the direction I steer them in. I think it has probably been the greatest influencer on the relationships I spend time in and ones I allow to drift away…some I will remain connected to in a proximal kind of way, but they no longer add value to either persons life. My take away message really has been that be aware of the contagions you expose yourself to and how many rocks you allow in your backpack – sometimes you might want to shrink wrap it!