My original intent for this post was to discuss the harmful effects of spreading rumors. After discovering that this is International Random Acts of Kindness Week, I decided rather than just posting about rumors, I would also talk about possible solutions. Random acts of kindness, and simply being happy, might help to eliminate or drastically reduce the negativity & damage done when people choose to spread rumors.
As I dove into this topic, I realized that spreading rumors is a form of social bullying. That led to asking the question, why do people bully? Why do people feel the need to spread rumors that cause harm and pain to the victim? Sadly, this behavior is not limited to the school grounds. In fact, the website bullyingstatistics.org suggests that it happens well into adulthood. In settings like college, the work place, military, and even nursing homes. So why do seemingly grown up adults participate in this type of behavior? The website states this as one explanation:
Social Issues: The fact that one gets more social recognition for negative behaviors than for positive ones can also contribute to reasons why people bully. Situation comedies and reality television, as well as real life situations in schools, for example, show that acting out is more likely to get noticed than behaving oneself civilly and courteously. Jealousy or envy, and a lack of personal and social skills to deal with such feelings can also be reasons why people bully.
Upon reading that paragraph, it made me sad to think that some people are driven by recognition from others for spreading rumors, creating unnecessary drama, and ultimately hurting someone else in the process. Even if the intention is not to maliciously hurt someone, what needs to be remembered is that spreading rumors does bring harm to the person being talked about. So the next time you may find yourself in a situation of conversing about another person in a negative way, think twice because it’s not just gossip or rumors, it’s really bullying, and it really hurts.
The other parts of the paragraph that jumped out at me were the references to civil and courteous behavior. When did it become more desirable to be reinforced for negative behavior then to be recognized for being courteous and civil to one another? What drives such negativity? Is it the overwhelming envy & jealousy that some people feel because of other people’s successes, attitude, or outlook?
Regardless, I wonder what would happen if we all took the energy that it takes to fuel negativity and spread rumors, and instead put that energy into positive recognition & simply being happy? Happy people do not waste time with negativity. Happy people do not spread rumors that harm others. Happy people do not bully.
What do happy people do? According to Shawn Achor, author of New York Times best-selling books The Happiness Advantage (2010) and Before Happiness (2013), as well as Ripple’s Effect and The Orange Frog, and founder of goodthinkink.com, happy people practice the following positive actions:
1) List 3 things you are grateful for each day.
2) Journal about one daily positive experience.
5) Practice random acts of kindness (start each day by taking less than 2 minutes to send an email, text message, or make a social media post praising or thanking someone in your life. Recognize & reinforce the positive behaviors around you!)
Mr. Achor’s studies have shown that practicing these five habits for 21 consecutive days will greatly improve our level of happiness.
Since happiness is contagious, and it feels a lot better than negativity, I believe we owe it to ourselves to commit to 21 days to a happier life!
Who is with me?