Happiness is contagious

We are all inexplicably connected to one another by virtue of our deeply social nature as humans.  But recently, studies have shown exactly how those connections can actually affect our well-being.  This week I saw a show called “This Emotional Life” on Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB).  The highlight of this particular episode was the fact that happiness is contagious.

You’re probably wondering how they know that, right?  Well, researchers created a hugely complex map of the interactions between specific people and those they’re connected with.  It was a jumble of names and arrows of different colors indicating the types of relationships.  Some people were related, others were friends or co-workers.

Out of all the data they collected, the most statistically significant finding was that happiness spreads through the map faster than the common cold.  So it looks like when you’re happy, your happiness spreads to those you come into contact with, who then share it with other people you may not have even met.  Your happiness can have a positive effect on people up to four degrees of separation from you!

With that in mind, consider the impact your happiness has on your family, and the impact theirs has on you.  This week, put some special focus on doing the things that bring you joy so that you can not only experience happiness but you can also spread it to the people you love.  And begin to notice how your child’s laughter can spread through your household like wildfire.  What can you do this week to foster joy and laughter in your home?

We’ve all experienced the contagious effects of a good belly laugh.  Recently, I keep seeing flyers for “laughter yoga” and I think to myself, wow, my home is like daily laughter yoga!  Between my hilarious husband and my adorable baby, I can hardly escape the extreme state of joy that spreads through my life.  But if you’re not laughing daily (and you’re not alone there), consider taking some drastic action. Go to a laughter yoga class, watch a funny movie, smile at yourself in the mirror, or spin around in circles.  Do whatever you have to do to bring more happiness into your life.

But watch out, because often the things we THINK bring us happiness are not the things that actually make us happy.  Studies have also shown that we tend to think that more money, more possessions, and more leisure time will bring us more happiness when in fact those things are not correlated to increased happiness at all.

So a little reminder, the greatest factor current research can find to increase happiness is connecting with other happy people.  Who are your most joyful friends?  Which family members make you smile?  And what do you need to do to be sure that you and your kids are exposed to those people on a regular basis?

I would love to hear all about your experiences with the contagious quality of happiness.  Please leave me a comment!

Have a joyful week, Shelly

2 comments
Shelly
Shelly

Rifat, You're so welcome! And I agree, it doesn't take a lot of time to brighten up the day :)

Rifat
Rifat

Thank you for such a beautiful reminder! It is so true. Often i find it's my children who are the first to laugh and bring a smile to my face, sometimes just a five minute laugh time can make all the difference.