Mood Exponentiality: The Domino Effect Of Attitude

I’m sure many people before me have addressed this topic, but I’m not privy to their research or writing, and I’ve not done any formal research of my own.  I’m operating on the assumption that anyone can relate to the situation below.

How many times have you been wandering along, minding your own business, in no particular state of mind, and then BAM!—someone you run across is a jerk to you for no particular reason?  You shake your head, ask yourself “What on earth was that all about?” and then you carry on.  But something has changed: ‘no particular state of mind’ has turned into a bad mood.

You don’t even realize your mood has changed.  The next person you come across has a slightly confusing look on her face—you take it as a slight and give her a dirty look or say something snarky.  You bump into a friend a moment later and bite his head off while telling him about the terrible morning you’ve had on your way to work. As soon as you get your coat off and clock in, a co-worker walks past and says something that sets you off again.

Along the line, you were the victim of someone else’s bad mood, but then you made several other passersby victims of the bad mood that you adopted from the first.  And at least a couple of those people you lashed out against probably passed it on to other folks, and they, in turn, may have done the same, and so on.  This phenomenon of moods changing like dominoes falling is what I call Mood Exponentiality.

The part of this event that most fascinates me (and I’m guilty often) is the reluctance of anyone to hold himself accountable for his or her role in the cycle.  Even while transferring my mood onto someone else, in the back of my mind all the wrongs perpetrated against me for the day are churning.  I admire the people who can brush off a bad experience and interact with others as if nothing ever happened.  I hope to eventually master that art, which I think is among the greatest things one can accomplish in the small scale of daily life.

Despite the doom and gloom, fret not, because this process isn’t always negative.  The same way a foul mood can branch off to a number of unwilling participants, the opposite is possible too.  A random act of kindness, like holding a door open for someone behind you, can change someone’s outlook for the day.  Something as simple as a smile instead of a scowl can give that little push over the threshold from ‘no particular state of mind’ to a good mood.

Ultimately, I think if each of us makes an effort each day to be positive and do even the smallest nice things for people, there will be a lot less hostility and negativity to go around.  In the graphic above, if the first person in the chain reaction can manage to refrain from projecting his or her bad attitude onto the next, the potential is there to save a number of other people from that attitude.  My aim is to put on a happy face and do my best to spread good vibes instead of a bad mood.  At the risk of sounding like an idealist hippie, this is something anyone and everyone can do.

-J

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~ by hamiltonjacobs on December 21, 2013.

One Response to “Mood Exponentiality: The Domino Effect Of Attitude”

  1. […] was taken aback by his tone, and startled a touch from his storming up on us. I have a theory about attitudes rubbing off on people. I asked for clarification, “What do you mean who am I […]

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