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Infection: Avoid The Unhappy And Unlucky

You can die from someone else's misery - emotional states are as infectious as diseases. You may feel you are helping the drowning man, but you are only precipitating your own disaster. The unfortunate sometimes draw misfortune upon themselves; they will also draw it on you. Associate with the happy and fortunate.
THE NUT AND THE CAMPANILE - A nut found itself carried by a crow to the top of a tall campanile and by falling into a crevice, succeeded in escaping its dreaded fate. It then besought the wall to shelter it, and praising its height, and the beauty and the noble tone of its bells. "Alas," it went on, "as I have not been able to drop beneath the green branches of my old father and to lie in the fallow earth, covered by his fallen leaves, do you, at least, not abandon me. When I found myself in the beak of the cruel crow, I made a vow, that if I escaped, I would end my life in a little hole." At these words, the wall, moved with compassion, was content to shelter the nut, in the spot where it had fallen. Within a short time the nut burst open: its roots reached in between the crevices of the stones and began to push them apart; its shoots pressed up towards the sky. They soon rose above the building and as the twisted roots grew thicker, they began to thrust the walls apart and force the ancient stones from their old places. Then the wall, too late and in vain, bewailed the cause of its destruction and in short time, it fell in ruin. - Leanardo da Vinci, 1452-1519

Those unfortunate among us, who have been brought down by circumstances beyond their control deserve all the help and sympathy we can give them. But there are others, who are not born to misfortune or unhappiness, but who draw it upon themselves by their destructive actions and their unsettling effect on others. It would be a great thing, if we could raise them up, change their patterns, but more often than not it is their patterns, which end up getting inside and changing us. The reason is simple - humans are extremely susceptible to the moods, emotions, and thinking patterns of those with whom they spend time.

Understand this: In the game of power, the people you associate with are critical. The risk of associating with infectors is that you will waste valuable time and energy trying to free yourself. Through a kind of guilt by association, you will also suffer in the eyes of others. Never underestimate the dangers of infection.

There is only one solution to infection: quarantine. The danger is that the infectious types often present themselves as victims, making it difficult, at first, to see their miseries as self-inflicted. By the time you recognize the problem, it is often too late. How can you protect yourself from such insidious viruses? The answer lies in judging people on the effects they have on the world and not on the reasons they give for their problems. Infectors can be recognized by the misfortune they draw upon themselves, their turbulent past, their long line of broken relationships, their unstable careers and the force of their character, which sweeps you up and makes you lose your reason. Be forewarned by these signs of an infector; learn to see the discontent in their eyes. Most of all, do not take pity. Do not trap yourself by trying to help. Flee the infector's presence or suffer the consequences.

The other side of infection is equally valid and perhaps, more readily understood: There are people who attract happiness to themselves by their good cheer, natural buoyancy, and intelligence. They are a source of pleasure and you must associate with them to share in the prosperity they draw upon themselves.

Imagine a Virus: Unseen, it enters you pores without warning, spreading silently and slowly. efore you are aware of the infection, it is deep inside you.

This applies to more than good cheer and success: All positive qualities can infect us. Talleyrand had many strange and intimidating traits, but most agreed that he surpassed all Frenchmen in graciousness, aristocratic charm and wit. He came from one of the oldest noble families and despite his belief in democracy and the French Republic, he retained his courtly manners. His contemporary, Napolean, was in many ways the opposite - a peasant from Corsica, taciturn, ungracious and violent.

There was no one Napolean admired more than Talleyrand and he kept Talleyrand around him, hoping to absorb the culture he lacked. There is no doubt that Napolean changed, as his rule continued. Many of his rough edges were smoothed by his constant association with Talleyrand.

Recognize the fortunate so that you may choose their company, and the unfortunate so that you may avoid them. Misfortune is usually the crime of folly and among those who suffer from it there is no malady more contagious: never open your door to the least misfortunes, for, if you do, many others will follow in its train. Do not die of another's misery. - Baltasar Gracian, 1601-1658'

Use the positive side of the emotional osmosis to advantage. If, for example, you are miserly by nature, associate with the generous and they will infect you, opening everything that is tight and restricted in you. If you are gloomy, gravitate to the cheerful. If you are prone to isolation, force yourself to befriend the gregarious. Never associate with those who share your defects - they will reinforce everything that holds you back. Only create associations with positive affinities. Make this a rule of life and you will benefit more than from all the therapy in the world.


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