I am a staunch pro-vaxer.
I have witnessed my own child turn blue and struggle for breath after contracting whooping cough (pertussis) from an unimmunized person. It was terrifying and infuriating.
I was vigilant and made sure my entire family, especially my daughter with the compromised immune system had all her vaccines up to date and on time. But, she was still vulnerable and even the herd immunity could not protect her.
I have debated the merits of vaccines with anti-vaxers a lot, particularly this past year with the measles outbreak.
But the other day, I realized that I am a vaccination hypocrite.
Yup, I said it.
Maybe not in the traditional “immunity injection in the arm” sort of way. But, I am guilty of not protecting myself and my family from an extremely toxic virus, that has been slowly making the rounds for years.
It’s called negativity, and be warned, it is highly contagious.
In the past, I've managed to keep negativity at arm's length but in the last while, I found myself slowly becoming infected. I simply attributed my negative shift to an increase in challenging life circumstances. I justified it because, well, negative things just kept happening and that was my truth. But, I've been able to put a unicorn riding a rainbow bandage on far worse circumstances in my life, so why now? Why was I succumbing to negativity?
A chopped salad recipe finally unlocked the mystery.
A few months back I posted what I thought was a simple link to a chopped salad recipe. My business partner Ellen happened to see it and read the string of comments that followed. " Wow that was quite a negative way to look at salad". I had no clue what she was talking about and had to go back and re-read the thread.
And there it was.
To my surpise, a few of my virtual friends had managed to find the negativity in a lovely chopped salad. Which tainted my own view on the assembly of a chopped salad as an arduous life-sucking event.
The "salad incident" got me thinking about what lens I was using to view my life. And what lens were the folks around me using to view theirs, both in my virtual and in actual life.
I immediately took a social media hiatus to reevaluate my negative stance on chopped salads (and everything else) and made a concerted effort to be aware of the language I used and that was being used around me.
I listened to interactions in the produce aisle at the grocery store, the verbiage I used in my everyday business calls and the words spoken in my kitchen with friends and family. I re-read emails. I even quietly listened to some co-workers chatting on the subway about a colleague and counted every negative comment they uttered. My tally hit 19 by the time I reached my stop.
The more time I spent being aware of negativity and its subtle effects, the more I realized how contagious it was and that I needed to get a big old booster shot S.T.A.T.
Ellen, the "unlocker (not a real word) of the mystery of the salad incident", has always been an optimistic person. From the moment we met as teenagers, she has exuded joy and positivity. And that has never changed. I don’t think I have ever seen a photo of her where she is not smiling. Don't get me wrong, she is no Pollyanna. But, Ellen naturally chooses to say YES. And the more time I spent with her, the more optimistic I too became.
I had been surrounding myself with NO BUT people for so long that some where along the line, I got jaded and forgot the golden rule of improv YES AND.
The first rule you learn in improv class is YES AND. Never deny someone, instead accept what is being given, say yes and add to it. It furthers the idea and creates more possibilities so wonderful things can happen.
Like the herd immunity concept, surrounding yourself with "vacinated" people is essential. If you are vulnerable, it can protect you from toxic bugs that can completely wipe you off your feet and potentially be deadly.
So, if you happen to be an anti-vaxer when it comes to negativity like I was, maybe it is time to take a look at the bigger picture. Who am I potentially infecting and who is potentially infecting me?
The CDC recommends the following ways to stop the spread of germs at work, home and school.
I'd like to add one more recommendation from the Improv world
Maybe, if we all do our part to wipeout negativity at work, at home and at school, the herd immunity will dominate and it will be eradicated for good. Oh and if that sounds a little too Pollyanna for you, go check your yellow immunization card, you are likely due for a big old booster shot in the arm.