Laughing is healthy, it keeps us fit und is strengthening the immune system and it is infectious. Feelings in general are extremely infectious. We all can hardly avoid joining in when somebody is laughing out loud. If you don’t believe try yourselves!
Meeting a cheerful friend after a long and hard business day lifts our spirits way faster than trying to relax at home. Probably we are laughing about the day’s misfortunes at the end of the day. But not only positive emotions are infectious. The mood of a really depressed person gets us down and sad movies give us food for thoughts. It’s not only what people are saying but the whole attitude affects us. If we are watching two people in a conversation we can often observe that both are acting the same way. One person is copying the others posture like sitting cross-legged or supporting the head with the hand. Interacting with our counterpart leads to a bilateral imitation and results in an alignment of the other person’s mood.
Which sense does it make to cry while watching a movie or to watch the penalties with excitement even if it doesn’t change our lives?
We are able to put yourselves in somebodies place by imitating the person to learn from his/her feelings. Facial expression and gestures show information about our feelings and purposes. The imitation of these manners makes it possible to recreate these feelings and to understand our counterparts.
So called mirror neurons are the base of imitation and help us to obtain social competence from the beginning of our life.
The sight of the mother’s smile let the child’s mirror neurons “fire” and causes a reflex. From now on the child tries to imitate the mother’s facial expressions and connects them to basic emotions they are carrying. Soon it will also bring its’ eyebrows closer when the mother is complaining about something and so on.
Learning by imitating our caregiver or even an inspiring example is very important for each child. That’s how they learn to behave in the society they grow up. After the first years maybe the shining example is not the mother or father but a sibling or contemporaries from the so called peer-group of the child. That is how we learn to express but also control or even hide our feeling in our society. This way we pass on the desired manner of our family, kin or at least peer-group.
Emotions are coming from the deepest ground of our souls, they are only caused by special (most individual) triggers and can be hardly played. The fear not to be part of our peer-group let us learn to control the expression of our feelings. And when we are grown up there are probably some situations when we are “childish” and let our feelings unfiltered out, but in general we react distracted if somebody does so.
Although all these aspects let us watch football matches with excitement, shouting good advices, being totally engrossed with the match, but if one of the football players shows emotions or even starts crying we are directly embarrassed.
Some people even feel themselves invited to post comments that the reaction of the player is cheesy or at least exaggerated. But actually he is extremely lucky to be able to let all emotions out especially concerning his personal daily life and move on with all of his heart.
The emotional tenor of a family or a whole ethnic group is carried on to the next generation by children imitating their parent’s behavior. The fragile emotionality and openness of a child is internalized and the thinking process is adjusted to the adults. This can be entirely dangerous!
In terms of positivity towards migration or job market more openness and awareness would be highly recommended; Openness towards the feelings of foreign people but also to reflect the own fear or anger. It is nearly impossible to restructure the gridlocked pattern in our brain but we have to try it at least for the future of our children. Because they have to life in the (emotional) world we created.