On a whole new scale, we are being reminded about the contagious nature of viruses and colds. It’s the perfect opportunity to remember that goodness is contagious too. You can spread kindness, generosity, peace, and love with every encounter.
As I was studying a map showing the outbreak and global spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), I wondered: What would it look like if we could see the “hot spots” of love and compassion? What if we could see how lives are transformed by simple acts of kindness? What if we could see how one generous act like letting go of a grudge or resentment could impact others?
- (of a disease) spread from one person or organism to another by direct or indirect contact
- (of an emotion, feeling, or attitude) likely to spread to and affect others.
In my work as a spiritual wellness leader, I’ve learned that good stuff and bad stuff are contagious. We touch others on a daily basis and those interactions are impactful. It’s not surprising that fear is contagious. But here’s good news: research has shown that generosity, kindness, compassion, and courage are all contagious too!
For example, one study from Berkeley reveals that seeing someone perform an act of kindness gives you an uplifting, warm and fuzzy feeling. This “moral elevation” is something that we experience when in the presence of goodness. Moral elevation inspires acts of generosity, optimism, and altruism in and towards others. Additionally, it actually builds your physical immunity, helping your body repel nasty germs.
If you want to go deeper, check out this article about social networks.
How can you be contagious in a good way?
Yes, pay attention to the CDC’s advice to wash your hands and take other common-sense steps. Practice thoughtful response rather than fear-based reactions. Spread goodness through small gestures of kindness such as making eye contact, smiling at strangers, saying thank you often, and reaching out to someone who needs to be uplifted by calling them or sending a card.
Here are more practical ways to contribute to the healing of the world in a good contagious way:
- As you are washing your hands for 20 seconds, offer a prayer for everyone who is sick (those you know and those you don’t know).
- As you are listening to the news, offer a prayer for calm, peace, and healing.
- Practice a Loving-Kindness meditation that sends light and love out to all the corners of our world. Grounded in the Buddhist tradition, there are many variations of this prayer that spreads compassion and healing. Below is one that we’ve practiced at Well for the Journey
What is one thing you can do to bring goodness and love to others today? Do that. Spread the good stuff.
Blessings and love,
LOVING KINDNESS MEDITATION
It’s best to take your time to practice this meditation, but you can go at your own pace. And if you only have a few minutes, that’s ok- a little light and love goes a long way!
Find a comfortable sitting position. Place your feet on the ground. Relax and settle your mind.
Begin by focusing on your breathing. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.
Find the place of tender, loving kindness inside your heart (it doesn’t matter what you call it: Love, Light, Divine, Spirit, etc.). Feel the warmth, light, tenderness, and affection within your heart. Bathe in this warm light. Give thanks.
Drawing upon this source of love, bring to mind someone you deeply care about- a relative, friend, or even a pet. Send loving kindness toward this being. Send them warm light from the center of your heart.
Now bring to mind a casual friend or colleague, someone just beyond your inner circle. Send loving kindness toward him/her. Send him/her warm light from the center of your heart.
Continue drawing from your inner source of tender, loving kindness…that light and love.
Bring to mind someone about whom you feel neutral or indifferent, a stranger.
Send loving kindness toward them. Send them warm light from the center of your heart.
Remember someone who has hurt you or someone you struggle to like. Bless them. Send them your love. Send them warm light from the center of your heart.
Gather all these people and yourself into the stream of love and hold them here for a few moments.
Finally, let the flow of loving kindness widen to encompass all beings in the universe. Radiate your feelings of warmth, tenderness, love, and light out to the world and universe.
Conclude with a simple thank you or Amen.