Reasons to be cheerful

According to my sniffling and coughing friends there’s a ‘bug going around’. The thought of something being contagious does not make people cheerful in the normal run of things. That might be about to change.

In the British Medical Journal there’s an article that demonstrates that happiness is also contagious and spreads through social groups.

People who are surrounded by many happy people and those who are central in the network are more likely to become happy in the future. … clusters of happiness result from the spread of happiness and not just a tendency for people to associate with similar individuals. A friend who lives within a mile and who becomes happy increases the probability that a person is happy by 25% . Similar effects are seen in coresident spouses (8%), siblings who live within a mile (14%), and next door neighbours (34%).

In the conclusion they note:

People’s happiness depends on the happiness of others with whom they are connected. This provides further justification for seeing happiness, like health, as a collective phenomenon.

It’s official, happiness is contagious!

What’s more if you spread some happiness around and the people around you become happier presumably some of their increased happiness will return to you in a virtuous circle.

I think now might be a very good time for an outbreak of happiness.

Perhaps some promiscuous smiling or unprovoked laughter might be a way to start things off. Thankfully this is one of those conditions where it’s much better to be fully infected than just a carrier without symptoms.

I look forward to the day when my friends tell me there’s a ‘hug going round’.

Tip: If you want to cultivate the full blown disease then be careful to stay away from episodes of Eastenders or copies of the Daily Mail.

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