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Did you know positivity is literally contagious? True story.

psychology, epidemic, virus, outbreak, community
Image via Pixabay.

Good times can spread rapidly from one person to another.

The term "epidemic" means "something that spreads really fast."

The flu, dengue fever, the Zika outbreak, the recent Covid experience which we're all still navigating through, or sudden plant-based outbreaks that threaten large number of crops are all classic examples of epidemics.

When an epidemic hits, it hits hard. The flu can make everyone in your office sick within days, and viral outbreaks can quickly threaten the population of an entire country.


But did you know that not all epidemics are bad?

Yes, there is such a thing as a "positive epidemic." And according to researchers at the Santa Fe Institute in New Mexico, positive epidemics actually spread faster than negative ones.

Amazing, right?

Examples of positive epidemics include the spread of good viruses that protect their hosts instead of harming them or even beneficial social phenomenons like the use of agriculture technology spreading among humans.

We don't normally associate positive things with the word "epidemic," but when these positive epidemics (nicknamed "benes" for the purposes of this study) take hold, they are capable of affecting a lot more hosts than a negative epidemic can and in a much shorter amount of time too.

Or, to put it simply: The study found that good epidemics spread faster and wider than negative ones.

When you think about it, this pattern actually makes a lot of sense.

Imagine you just heard about a new Gmail trick that increases your productivity and saves you a ton of time. The first thing you're going to do is tell as many people as possible, right?

When the people you tell find out about it, they get the same excited feeling as you and start telling as many people as they can. Pretty soon, your entire office building is buzzing about it. The fact that this "epidemic" is motivated by a positive feeling and a beneficial change in work flow means that it can spread without anyone trying to stop it.

A negative epidemic, on the other hand, like a stomach virus, still spreads within communities but has more obstacles trying to prevent it from doing so. If you have a stomach virus, you'll (hopefully) stay home from work, cancel your social plans, and lie down on your bathroom floor in the fetal position until you feel better, cutting out key opportunities for the virus to spread to other people.

When it comes to those beneficial viruses I mentioned earlier, the kind that prevent a host from getting sick, those might increase your energy and happiness, which in turn make you more likely to interact with other people and spread the awesome, protective, healthy virus more quickly. The people you interact with then get the same protection.

Weirdly, this same epidemic pattern also applies to positive and negative words.

The researchers used Google's Ngram Corpus to track the popularity of certain beneficial words over time.

They found that when a word is highly useful and beneficial to society, its usage spreads very quickly. "Personal computer" and "aspirin" both became highly used words after they were invented and their popularity increased exponentially.

Because of the positive benefits associated with both aspirin and personal computers, people learned about both of them extremely quickly and wanted to share that knowledge — spreading the words far and wide at a rapid pace.

People say that positivity is contagious, and this study shows that in many ways that is ... literally true.

We're drawn to things that help us out, and we're eager to "infect" other people with them. Human society can make giant leaps based on positive and beneficial epidemics.

From the implementation of agriculture to the space age to your new fancy Gmail trick to paying it forward at the Starbucks drive-through, we all move forward as a society when we help spread the positive wealth around.

All images provided by Kat Chao

A photo of Kat and her mom, and a bowl of her mom's famous curry

True

Whether it’s the mac n’ cheese that reminds you of simpler times, or the exotic spiced chicken recipe you acquired from your travels, every meal tells a story.

This rings especially true for people whose families immigrate to different countries to start a new life. Immigrant parents often not only save every penny, but spend most of their time away working in order to build a future for their children. Each comfort meal they manage to provide their kids in the very few spare hours they have tells the story of love and sacrifice.

For Kat Chao, that meal was her mother’s Korean curry.

korean foodA photo of baby Kat and her mom and dad

Growing up, Kat’s mom worked weekends to support her family. But that didn’t stop her from waking up Saturday morning to dice up some beef and fresh veggies and throw them into a large pot so that Kat’s dad could heat it up and serve it with some rice to her and her brothers later.

Curry was a quick, easy and inexpensive way to feed a full house, but it served more than just practical purposes. As Kat would wake up to the enticing aroma, she was reminded that her mom was always taking care of her, even if she couldn’t physically be there.

koran curryYUM

As Kat grew a little older, her attitude towards her mother’s curry shifted. Instead of looking forward to it, she would “roll her eyes at it,” as is customary of the rebellious teen. Those less-than-positive feelings were only exacerbated by the media constantly labeling carbs, therefore rice, as “bad.” As a kid who struggled with weight, her comfort food became a source of discomfort.

But as an adult, and now a mom herself, Kat has reached a full circle moment.

korean recipes, albertsonsKat, all grown up with her own familiy

As she makes her own kids the exact same curry dish (okay, maybe a leaner cut of beef, and organic veggies…but otherwise exactly the same!) Kat finds a whole new appreciation for the recipe, knowing how hard her mom worked to even make it happen.

Kat was lucky to have grown up with a meal to look forward to each night. Other kids aren’t so lucky. 1 in 8 kids currently experience food insecurity in the United States. But there’s an opportunity to decrease those numbers.

For every O Organics product you purchase, the company will donate a meal to someone in need through the Albertsons Companies Foundation—for up to a total of 28 million meals.

Is there a dish from your childhood that you’ve longed to rekindle with? You could do like Kat does and give it an O Organic twist. Luckily, the O Organics brand has a wide array of affordable ingredients, so creating healthy swaps is easier than ever. Plus, you can provide nourishment to another family at the same time.

Just think—the next meal you prepare could make all the difference to someone else. If every meal tells a story, that’s certainly a story worth telling.

There's nothing like the bond between twins.

If you've ever spent a significant amount of time with twins, you know that no other relationship compares.

My husband has twin brothers, and one of those brothers had twin daughters (busting the twins-skip-a-generation myth), so our family is quite familiar with the twin bond. Over and over, we've watched with amusement as one adult twin will move across the country for one reason or another, with the other twin eventually, but inevitably, following them. Twins redefine the word "inseparable," which makes sense since they've literally been together since before they were even born.

Nowhere is that bond more apparent than in a video of twin babies at the end of their first day of separation ever.

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Larissa Gummy was first introduced to the work of the Peace Corps in high school. All it took was seeing a few photos shared by her ninth-grade teacher, a returned Peace Corps Volunteer, to know that one day, she would follow in those footsteps.

This inspiration eventually led Larissa away from her home in Minnesota to Rwanda in East Africa, to give back to her family’s country of origin and pursue her passion for international development. Though her decision confused her parents at first, they’re now proud and excited to see what their daughter has accomplished through her volunteer work.

And just what was that work? Well, it changed from day to day, but it all had to do with health.

Mostly, Larissa worked for Rwanda’s First 1,000 Days Health project, which aims to improve the conditions that affect the mortality rate of kids within the first 1,000 days of being born (or almost three years old). These conditions include hygiene, nutrition, and prevention of childhood diseases like malaria and acute respiratory infections (ARI). Addressing malnutrition was a particular focus, as it continues to cause stunted growth in 33% of Rwandan children under the age of five.

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In a Facebook post, one of the people who was out with Megan the night of her murder detailed how her estranged husband had come to their table, put his hand on her neck and shoulder, and escorted her out of the building.

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His video was a response to TikTok users Angelina & Skyler, who confessed they don’t usually pick a side of the bed.

(FYI: Your side is determined from the perspective of laying in bed. For example, sleeping on the left side means that your partner would sleep to your right.)

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They also say that life without children is without purpose and that when the childless get older they’ll have no one to take care of them. One of the most patronizing critiques thrown at childless women is that they will never “feel complete” unless they have a child.

However, a lot of these critiques say more about the person doling them out than the person who decides to remain childless. Maybe, just maybe, their life is fulfilling enough without having to reproduce. Maybe, just maybe, they can have a life full of purpose without caring for any offspring.

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Apparently, it's so strong that beavers will build dams anywhere, including inside a human's house using whatever items they can find.

A video shared by Dr. Holley Muraco, director of research at the Mississippi Aquarium, shows a female beaver named Sawyer busily gathering stuffed animals, blankets, Christmas decorations, wrapping paper and more to build a dam in a hallway, and it's seriously the most delightful thing ever.

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