Grumpiness is contagious.
It is the one day you get to sleep in. Your eyes open naturally after a solid night’s sleep. There was no need for an alarm. The kids were still sleeping so the house is completely peaceful. You roll out of bed believing it is going to be a perfect day. You stroll into the kitchen and make a fresh cup of Green Mountain Vanilla Crème. You glance over at your phone fully charged. It is such a perfect morning that you think, “I am not going to check my phone today.” Habit kicks in. You swipe it open and quickly check messages to see if anything important came in. Your eyes scroll down and land on an unexpected email. You quickly open it only to discover some frustrated comment from someone who decided to write an email in the middle of the night.
Ok, this is a scenario that we all face. It might be a text or phone call rather than email. But, it sets in motion an emotional downturn as you grow frustrated and irritated. This one moment triggered a response in you that lasts for hours if not the remainder of the day. You find yourself grumpy. You become short. The coffee does not taste as good anymore. Duties for the day become a chore. You are irritated at the slightest inconveniences such as the cold weather, the line at the store, or even the happy clerk.
We oftentimes don’t realize the ripple effect we have in life. We are frustrated so we vent. The emotions build up so we choose to air them. It is our prerogative. It is our right. It is a common occurrence on social media as people frequently share their annoyances with anyone who will read, at times leading to a tidal wave of grievances by other people.
It is the highly unusual person who stops, takes a moment, and asks whether or not my mood will impact someone else. But, we should. Are there times where life is so frustrating that we need to share with someone? Yes, of course. However, it is far more common for us to become snarky at the slightest provocation. And, in turn, it ripples into another person. The other person becomes grumpy when in many cases there were not. Our emotional frustration influenced that person or persons. Thus, a string of grumpiness is triggered into other persons who woke up thinking it was going to be a perfect day.
Grumpiness is contagious but so is joy!
Rather than react to a comment what if we chose to leave it alone? What if we took a moment and breathed? What if we prayed for perspective and decided to not allow our emotions to be dictated by someone else? What if we stopped the ripple before it began and determined to be an agent of joy?
Then, we offer up a compliment to anyone who is present. We smile and tackle the day with enthusiasm and thankfulness. Even though the line is long, we see a person with a dour face. Rather than dismiss the person, we ask him how he is doing and say you love his jacket. As you approach the checkout, it is clear that the clerk is having a rough day. Hours of frustrated customers have worn her down. You thank her. You make a silly joke. And you wish her an awesome Christmas. Will she magically become joyous? I don’t know. However, it is certainly possible and far more likely than if we perpetuated grumpiness.
Is this not one of the reasons for the coming of Christ? It is to offer us joy. “But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.”” (Luke 2:10). Yes, Christ came to give us a life of joy. So today I can think of no better way to celebrate his birth than by choosing to make joy contagious by celebrating the gift of life in the lives of those around me.
Joy too is contagious.