Friday, July 16, 2010

Is unhappiness contagious?

When you're out to dinner with friends and the conversation takes a nose dive do you find yourself leaping off the board into the pool of pessimism? "Yes, yes" you think, "my life sucks, too! Ugh, horrible!" Or are you able to check yourself and back away from it? It can be very hard not to join the pity party once it is in full swing.

Last year, a couple I know, who had been married for a long time, separated unexpectedly (or so it appeared to me) and have divorced. I have since learned that the couple with whom the first couple were best friends, have just announced their impending split and a third couple from that same group, it turns out, is on the verge. While it seems absurd to say it, it feels a little like contagion rather than conicidence.

Do we help each other by sharing ALL of our unhappiness? Does this assist others in indentifying the sources of their own misery and subsequently encourage them to take the steps they truly need to be in a better place? Or are we, conversely, giving others an excuse to just give up and get out?

Like cattle on a rampage, is unhappiness truly a herd mentality? If so, how can we become happiness ranchers, lassoing the lead steer and turning that stampede around?

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