PLOS ONE just completed a thorough study about contagious yawning. Some yawns are spontaneous. Even unborn infants yawn in the womb. Other yawns, maybe the yawns you are trying to stifle right now, can be contagious. If you have a tendency to yawn when someone else does, you might be a compassionate person of higher intelligence. Or, at the very least, you can believe that until the next study comes out.
Have you ever noticed your dog yawning right after you did? Do you yawn after your dog does? I don’t have a dog and don’t want to have a dog… your dog probably wouldn’t make me yawn. On the other hand, if a member of my family yawns, or a friend yawns, I almost always feel the need to yawn right afterward. Spontaneous yawning is more common when you care.
The study also found that easy-yawners tended to score a bit higher on their cognitive scores. (That should elicit a yawn from several of you right now!) But, at the end of the very through, PLOS ONE study on yawning, only age seemed to be the clearest factor. Younger people yawned more often than those who were older. Does that mean that older people are less compassionate or more interested in a good night’s sleep?
How many times have you yawned or stifled a yawn while reading this blog post? Does that mean you are compassionate or that I should move on to the important part of this post? I’ll choose to err on the side of the latter.
Did you know that, to the best of our knowledge, the Bible never records a single time when someone yawned, although we know they must have yawned sometimes. We don’t ever know of a time that Jesus yawned, and he is clearly the most intelligent, compassionate person who ever lived. The Bible doesn’t talk about yawning. On the other hand, the word “love” is mentioned 551 times.
I think the only really interesting result of the study was this: it appears that people and animals who are more socially aware and more interested in the lives of others yawned more often than other people. So, based on that fact, Christians should yawn more often. (Feel free to forward this to your pastor. It might make him feel better about his sermon last Sunday morning.)
If you have read this entire article and have not felt the need to yawn – even once – here are some Bible verses to increase your awareness of others:
James 2:8 – “If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, ‘Love one another as yourself,’ you are doing right.”
Colossians 3:12-14 – “As God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”
1 Peter 4:8 – “Love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”
At the very least, the next time someone is perturbed with you for yawning while they are speaking, be prepared to refer them to this blog and quote 1 Peter 4:8. Explain to them that you aren’t bored, but rather you are yawing because you love them. All joking aside, pay attention the next time someone yawns and you find yourself yawning right along. Apparently, Christians ought to yawn with others on a regular basis.
“As God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience…” and – the occasional yawn.