Catch the Happiness Virus

There have been countless quotes, studies, books and discussions on achieving personal happiness. Many refer to it either as something elusive which finds you when you’re not looking for it, or as something inside of you that you consciously decide to activate – an appreciation of your life that becomes part of your daily living. However, we should not discount our environment as an important component in our happiness levels. Dr. Nicholas Christakis, a medical sociologist and doctor at Harvard, and James Fowler, a political scientist and professor at UC San Diego, have attempted to prove this through a twenty-year longitudinal study of over 4,000 individuals. The results of the study demonstrated that happiness appears to be contagious. Dr. Christakis refers to the spread of happiness as a “ripple effect” that extends outward to as far as three degrees of separation.

Collective Network Phenomenon

Dr. Nicholas Christakis refers to happiness as a “collective network phenomenon,” asserting that being part of a social network gives you a greater chance of happiness. This collective network gives people a sense of connection and belonging and acts as a platform from which all emotions can be transferred to others within the network; and although this also includes the potential for spreading misery among others, studies have found that happiness seems to spread more consistently than unhappiness. The fact is, the more people in a network you have access to, the more potential for acquiring a positive “recharge” whenever you need it. In similar fashion, James Fowler states, “Every friend increases the probability that you’re at the center of a network, which means you are more eligible to get a wave of happiness.”

Dr. Christakis also states that the potential for other people in your social network to affect your mood in positive ways diminishes over time and geographic distance. The closer you are physically to your network, the better the signal, with phone and computer communication diluting the strength of the “energy wave” of emotion. Those who are closer to the center of their social network tend to be happier than those further outside the circle. This social network is diverse, made up of friends, family, spouses, roommates, and neighbors. Through up to three degrees of separation, Dr. Christakis found evidence of happiness spreading as far as to your friends’ friends’ friends, essentially passing happiness to strangers. That’s impressive!

In a separate study, researchers found that one person’s mood could have an immediate impact on another’s, especially through imitating the other person’s facial expressions and body mannerisms. In such circumstances, someone could catch a mood in as little as a few seconds.

In a world essentially made up of energy, it comes as no surprise that emotions can spread like a virus. There is supporting evidence that increased happiness has a positive impact on overall health – on a basic level, the happier the individual, the less stress hormones they will produce, which directly affects the immune system. The chemicals your body releases when you are happy aid you in living longer and offer you a better chance of fighting disease and other health problems. Being a part of a social network gives you access to emotional support and a reservoir of positive energy, and the more conscious you are of this process and its impact on you, the more control you can wield over your environment, your feelings and your health. There’s no time like the present to immerse yourself in your own “crowd” and inhale the happiness!

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10 thoughts on “Catch the Happiness Virus

  1. Pingback: Psychic Zofeya: A Sense of Peace | California Psychics Blog

  2. beancounter1958

    I read this article with interest….and while I agree that you need to cut the negative people or influences out of your life….what it does not address is what if one does not HAVE a social network. I for one do not. No family to speak of and no friends, especially no true friends. At 52 years of age….I have pretty much given up on that. I tried everything, but it is just about not do able to make a large social connection at my age. Dating sites don’t help and often HARM rather than do any good. And organizations want you to do good works for them, but it stops there. I am a face to face person. Online relationships do nothing for me. So what’s the answer…many people have no idea what it is like to live “completely alone and feel completely alone.

  3. bobhoffele

    My question is? How do you remove the toxic that is coming from your grow children.
    With out loosing them. There pain associated with there problems. Is the hardest thing to look the other way.


  4. spacepuppy

    yes, and just remember that when these real people share their extreme pain and frustration, and insurmountable circumstances–despite their ambition-just cut them out of your life and ignore them!

  5. misskrystal

    Hi Velvet-That is a wonderful confirmation. I agree, cutting the bad energy out of your life makes a big difference….This was a wonderful article. I agree.

    There is a simple way to get rid of the “toxic” people in your life-without fighting or creating friction. If you feel that you need a “custom-made” plan in order to get toxic spirits/persons out of your life, please call me and I will help you do that-AND without any fighting or confrontations-There is a very peaceful way to do this-And I can show you- However, do read this article, print it/ save it, it has great information. I would hold on to this as you never know when you may need to refer to it.THANKS….Bravo.
    Miss Krystal

  6. Jacqueline

    Hi Alina,
    What a fantastic article, I loved it, I’m such a strong believer in one taking control of our own happiness, we have the capability of deciding what mood we will choose for each moment of the day, where we don’t have control of life’s ups and down, we do have control of our-self.

    Blessings and Big Hugs!
    Jacqueline x9472

  7. velvetoversteel

    Absolutely Perfectly explained, Alina, on how our environment and the people in it do either negatively or positively effect our mood, health… Life!!

    I cut the negative and ‘bad virus’ people out of my life over the last few years. I have grown stronger and healthier as a result. Someone whom I hadn’t seen for a year told me last night at an event that I had enormous positive energy and confidence now. YES! Best compliment ever!!!

    Great article, Alina!! Thanks for sharing with us all!!
    Blessings & Hugs,
    Coreen @ VOS

  8. Gina Rose ext.9500Gina Rose ext.9500

    This is great advice…..

    make sure the people you choose to add to your happy social network are not the ” emotional vampire ” type because that ” ripple affect ” works positively AND negatively……so it’s important to choose the people wisely.

    And be ready and willing to give back to them when they need you as well… it is a two way street.

    Blessed Be )O(
    Gina Rose ext.9500


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