You Are Contagious

02 Apr 2014

Most of the world has an identity that is tied to their group. Africans, Asians, Latinos and Middle Easterners have a sense of connection; they know they need each other, so effort is put to the common good.

However, those of European descent tend to have a very individualistic view of life. Self-identity tends to be self-contained; we like our independence.

Science is beginning to back up the non-Western view of life, that we are all connected in ways that we are only beginning to understand.

I recently watched the documentary, I AM, that journals Tom Shadyac’s search for meaning. He is a successful filmmaker whose credits include Bruce Almighty, The Nutty Professor and Ace Ventura.

After a head trauma that limited his his life, Shadyac set out to find true significance. In searching for what’s wrong with the world, he actually discovered much of what’s right.

His film contains interviews with remarkable men and women who work in science, philosophy and faith (including Bishop Desmond Tutu).

One unlikely finding is the extent to which we’re all connected. Really. You may think you’re an island, but you’re not. You are connected to other people, atoms, plants, people, and even yogurt. Yes, he showed one experiment that registered the effects of his thoughts and emotions on YOGURT!

The thumbprint of a common designer is on everything in our world. And it seems to be our heart that drives us, not our brains. Did you know you have heart intelligence?

Shadyac learned that cooperation, not competition, is in our DNA. And the world operates better when cooperation is in full-blown action.

The film’s website says, “I AM shows consensus decision-making is the norm amongst many species, from insects and birds to deer and primates.  The film further discovers that humans actually function better and remain healthier when expressing positive emotions, such as love, care, compassion, and gratitude, versus their negative counterparts, anxiety, frustration, anger and fear.”

A fundamental principle that I teach in my interpersonal communication class is that WE ARE CONTAGEOUS. And I don’t just mean our germs. We affect each other. If I am happy, sad, angry, anxious, forgiving, loving…no matter what, I (usually without knowing it) communicate my thoughts and feelings to others. Knowing this is also reason to consider with whom you hang out. People you spend time with affect you; and you affect them.

A quote by sporting coach Al Munoz makes the point: “If you’re not happy in life then you need to change, calibrate, readjust…flush your negative energy and fill it with positive energy; How do we do that you might ask? Well I would start by making others happy; diseases are not the only things that spread easy. We are all connected in some form of unseen energy… think how those around you will impact you and make you feel if they were happy?”

A spiritual leader named Paul once wrote to some communities in what is modern day Turkey. He wrote a prayer that they would be encouraged and “knit together in love.”**

You can catch I AM on Netflix or on DVD from Amazon and other retailers.

*Read about the film at:

** The Bible: Colossians 2:2


Royalty-free heart puzzle image created by unknown and downloaded from:

  1. Although I agree with the assertion that cooperation is an innate part of the human condition, I believe it is wrong to contrast that with competition writ large. The two are not mutually exclusive. Football players compete for positions on a team so that the team may cooperate more effectively. Furniture Row is a shopping center that cooperates in its advertising efforts so that each member may compete more effectively. I believe we need to recognize and foster healthy competition because it provides an incentive to improve. If our public school system were competing for students, education would improve. Competition and cooperation go hand-in-hand in our evolutionary development.

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