You know that moment when the person in front of you in line at the grocery store lets out a mammoth yawn and you cannot stifle the urge to follow suit?
Well, studies have proven that a variety of behaviors, including yawns, are contagious, but I’m here today with irrefutable proof that joy is too.
An adorable clip from a classical music concert found its way to me earlier this week and makes the point perfectly.
— 99.5 WCRB, Classical Radio Boston (@995WCRB) May 7, 2019
As the orchestra played the closing notes of Mozart’s Masonic Funeral Music, a small child from somewhere in the depths of the concert hall lets out a very enthusiastic “Woooow!” What happens next is a moment of pure joy. The entire audience of classical music lovers breaks into spontaneous laughter and then applause in response to this lovely interruption.
Now let me tell you as someone with roots in the classical world, spontaneity of ANY kind is not the norm. What exactly pierced through the atmosphere that day to move an entire room to laughter and applause? May I propose to you that they caught joy. When that little child exclaimed “Wow!” His or her genuine response released a “joy germ” into the formerly stuffy concert hall and people caught it! Think of it like Chicken Pox for your heart. But instead of bad and itchy it makes you feel a whole lot better.
It’s so easy to become overly serious with the demands of family and work life. There are times it feels like an uphill battle not to let life build up our joy immune system. But as this enchanting clip reminds us, sometimes all it takes is allowing a moment of fun or spontaneity (a joy germ) to wake us up out of the status quo. And the greatest part is, try as you might, genuine joy is not something you can contain. Once you catch it, you can’t stop it from spreading.