Imagine having a challenging workout at the gym.
You’re extremely tired and about to give up.
But then, you see someone next to you who is fighting their way through the pain.
So, you decide to join in and keep pushing.
Without knowing it, the other person nudged you into their direction.
And you do the same thing for the people around you all the time.
Actions Are Infectious
Human beings are social creatures that are constantly influencing each other. Our attitudes, feelings, and actions spread like viruses throughout our networks. In his book, Connected (1), sociologist Nicholas Christakis writes:
Across many different kinds of behavior: voting, cooperation, smoking, weight loss and weight gain, happiness, cooperative behavior, public health behaviors, we and others have been able to show that people are very meaningfully affected by the behaviors of other people to whom they’re connected.
And here’s the kicker: they are also affected by the behaviors of people to whom they’re not directly connected. When your friend’s friends quit smoking or your friend’s friends friend become nicer and more cooperative, this ripples through the network and affects you.
Similarly, when you make a positive change in your life, when you start running for example, or you participate in our democracy and you vote, it ripples outward from you and can affect dozens, hundreds, perhaps even thousands of other people.
How crazy is that? Each positive action you take has the potential of inspiring countless others to do the same. Not only your family and friends but the people they know. And then the people they know. And on and on it goes.
Always remember that everything you do is contagious. It will infect people you’ll never even meet. So, to be a force for good, the best thing you can do is…
Spread Positive “Viruses”
The greatest gift you can give the world is to lead by example; to show up at your very best and go after your goals with inspiring persistence. Because when you do that, you’ll motivate others to do the same. Here are the best ways I’ve come across to spread positive good “viruses” into the world:
- Use empowering language. Ban victim speech from your vocabulary. Instead of saying “I can’t,” say “I won’t.” Instead of “I have to,” say “I’m going to.” Instead of “I don’t know,” say “I’ll figure it out.” Pay attention to the language you use and get rid of any phrases that foster helplessness.
- Master your feelings. Express the body language of the person you want to be. Strike a powerful posture and smile. Doing that for just a couple of minutes will make you feel less stressed and more in charge.
- Build great habits. Run daily routines that help you realize your full potential. Build your fundamentals. Master your craft. Fill your mind with ideas from great books. Journal about what you learn. And focus on the process rather than your results.
- Be an instrument of service. Don’t ask what the world has to offer you, but instead what you have to offer the world. Forget about what others can do for you, and instead approach new people thinking to yourself: ”How can I help this person?”
- Outperform your contracts. Whatever you’ve committed to doing, always do a little bit more. Exceed the expectations others. And exceed the expectations you have for yourself. Always strive to be remarkable in your efforts.
- Forgive yourself fast. When you have a setback, practice self-compassion. Treat yourself like you would a good friend. Then, get back on track.
Be a Force for Good in the World
It might seem like a lot of work to show up your very best, but it’s much easier than not doing it.
On top of that, you’re an inspiration to everyone around you.
So, be a force for good in the world. It’s the most rewarding way to approach life.
Plus, you might just change someone’s life.
- Connected: How Your Friends’ Friends’ Friends Affect Everything You Feel, Think, and Do by Nicholas Christakis
Photo by Anna Dziubinska.
Thanks to Lewis Howes for inspiring this article.