What rubs off?

Photo courtesy of Bart (Creative Commons)

Photo courtesy of Bart (Creative Commons)

There’s a man (let’s call him Joe) who volunteers every week at the nonprofit where I work. Joe is one of the most cheerful people I have ever met. He always comes in with a smile and happy greetings, makes a point to speak to everyone in the office, and genuinely asks how they are doing. Even when he lost his wife last year, he was very matter of fact and positive in his faith. He has admitted to struggling with his grief at times, but through even the darkest days, he maintains a encouraging outlook that is infectious.

His positive attitude rubs off and you can’t help but smiling when he is there and even after he leaves the room. You just feel a little glow being around him.

There’s another volunteer (we’ll call her Suzie) who can be upbeat on occasion, but more often than not complains and whines about how hot or cold she is, how much work she has, how unfair it all is, that everything is going wrong, and generally how unhappy she is. She’s not interested in solutions, because even if you make a suggestion on how to fix something, she quickly explains how that won’t work and she is just destined to be burdened with problems.

Suzie sighs quite a bit.

And I find myself sighing when she is around.

I feel myself sink into crankiness each week when she gets wound up, even if things are going perfectly well for me. Her negative attitude can darken a sunny day in a heartbeat.

I am continually amazed how susceptible I am to the moods of others, and how hard I have to work some weeks to counteract the negativity and crabbiness of Suzie. It is a major effort to fend off the bad mood. On the other side, I feel happiness wash over me when Joe walks away, and often find myself commenting, “what a nice man he is.”

So I wonder which of these people I am to others? And which would you consider yourself?