Okay, now, this really tweaked me. Researchers from Harvard Medical School and the University of California, San Diego, in a study with the British Medical Journal, found that if you’re happy, thank your friends and family network!
The study showed that happiness occurs in a collective group, and then spreads through social networks like a virus. The good kind of virus. Seriously. It actually spreads.
The happiness of 5,000 individuals was studied over twenty years, and researchers found that when an individual is happy, the network effect is measurable up to three degrees. In other words, if you’re happy, that causes a chain reaction to not only your friends, but to their friends’ friends, and their friends’ friends’ friends. And this happiness stays around for a year!
“We’ve found that your emotional state may depend on the emotional experiences of people you don’t even know, who are to three degrees removed from you,” said Harvard Medical School Professor Nicholas Christakis. He along with James Fowler from the University of California, San Diego co-authored the study. “And the effect isn’t just fleeting.”
I mean, how cool is that?
They did find the closer in proximity you are, the stronger the effect. Which makes sense. But that it happened no matter where folks were.
I’ve believed for a long time in the quantum-physics idea that all life is energy fields. And while this study didn’t say that (and the researchers might cringe from my deduction!), and I know there’s a sociological phenomenon going on here, still.
But the main thing is, my goodness. We truly are connected, be it through a spiritual belief, an energy field, or sharing a cup of coffee with the neighbor next door. And how we feel, spreads. The idea that I can cause you to be happy by being so myself just warms my soul.
Thank goodness they did find that feeling sad didn’t spread the same way! One thing I know for true is that when a friend is depressed or sad, I can respond with compassion, and that helps. But the essence of that is also that no matter what horrors occur in the world to people I know or don’t, my feeling bad doesn’t help the situation one whit. In other words, I cannot possibly feel bad enough to make them feel better.
But, I can now feel good enough to make them feel better. Amazing!
And it gives new meaning to the sentiments of Behavioral Science Academic and author Steve Maraboli:
“Holding a grudge & harboring anger/resentment is poison to the soul. Get even with people… but not those who have hurt us, forget them, instead get even with those who have helped us.”
By being happy ourselves, and passing it on.
So, next time you become unexpectedly happy, check with your friends. LOL. You just may have stumbled onto happiness via your network. And what a great lesson as well. When we become happy and joyous, we help our friends. And their friends and . . .
How will you pass it on?