Thursday, January 14, 2010

Infectious Comfort

Last year, I had an appointment with an interesting student. He seemed very intelligent and he had overcome a great amount of adversity to get to where he was. I liked him immediately. We kind of “hit it off” verbally. Our hour and a half discussion seemed to fly by. As soon as he was gone, I could tell that I was kind of hyped up physiologically. A few minutes later, I started to feel kind of tired. As I thought about the possible reasons for this feeling, I realized that I had just spent that entire time with someone who was very energetic and enthusiastic. When I mentally rewound through the appointment, it seemed to be a whirlwind that was energizing at the time, but then tiring.

I am not sure why, but sometimes it seems that people can just rub off on us. Some people believe that such an effect has something to do with the human energy field radiating from the body. However, I spent some time internet researching the phenomenon. I found that most experts in physics and medicine have not substantiated such a claim. Most of the people who say it is true were either from eastern religious groups or companies trying to sell you something to correct your energy field.

I think it is probably much simpler. Rather than some sixth sense, I think humans are much better at unconsciously interpreting someone else’s behavior than we tend to think. I once read a research study in which women were supposed to evaluate the attractiveness of a man walking outdoors. The variable was that half of the men were given cologne to wear and half of them were wearing a non-smelling liquid. The results indicated that the women rated the men wearing the cologne as more attractive. But here is the catch; the women only saw videos of the men walking. It seems that the cologne affected the man’s confidence, which was visually detectable by the woman in seeing him strut.

In 2 Corinthians 1, Paul talks about the infectious nature of comfort that Christians receive from God. He wrote that God comforts us so that we can comfort others. It seems as if Paul takes all of the distressing aspects of his life with a sense of ease in knowing that God is faithful. Such a spirit is no doubt noticeable to others.

However, I do not think one can adequately fake such a comfort. It has to be real. People seem notoriously good at detecting false confidence. Yet when it is real it is incredibly valuable. I hope that we all receive infectious comfort.

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