Happiness is Contagious

One of the largest population studies ever undertaken, the Framingham Heart Study, showed that Happiness is Contagious: and that the relationship between people’s happiness extends up to three degrees of separation (for example, to the friends of one’s friends’ friends). 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.

Framingham Heart Study patterns of happiness

So isn’t it weird how many people seem to feel guilty about giving their happiness any kind of thought or a sense of importance?  Many of us find it easier to spend all our time thinking (and worrying) about other people – are they happy?  How can I care for them and make them happier?  What am I doing wrong? Why aren’t they happier around me? I can’t possibly do anything to make myself happy when I am so busy running around after everyone else. Me time? Surely that means I am being selfish?

It turns out that if we stop focusing on other people and instead shift that focus to our own happiness, those others whom we worry about are more likely to get happier too….

This image shows Happiness clusters in the Framingham social network. Each node represents one person (circles are female, squares are male). Lines between nodes indicate relationship (black for siblings, red for friends and spouses). Blue shades indicate the least happy people and yellow shades indicating the most happy (shades of green are intermediate).

Want to discover more? 

Why not come to one of our “Mindful Eating for Happiness” events?  Check out there wheres and whens @ the Soul Nutrition Events Page

Free Happiness CalendarSoul Nutrition Happiness Calendar gratitude diary

The Soul Nutrition Happiness Calendar enables you to record three things that make you happy each day, and to update your Facebook & Twitter status from there to help spread those moments of happiness & appreciation out to your own social network. The advantage of recording these three memories in the Happiness Calendar rather than just straight onto your social media feeds is twofold:

1. You build up a cloud of happy memories in the Happiness Calendar, in which the words that you type in most often appear largest – so it is easy to see at a glance what really makes you happy.  All too often we focus on what we believe will one day make us happy… so happiness always feels just out of reach. The Happiness Calendar shows us that we are usually experiencing more happiness right now than we think we are!

2. From the Happiness Calendar month to a view page you can look back over time and remind yourself of all the moments of happiness that you have experienced recently – great to do on a day when you are feeling unhappy or overwhelmed as a quick and easy way to feel more positive about life.

Eating for Happiness Food FaceOnce you get a sense of what does make you happy, you can also use Soul Nutrition’s unique interactive SHIFT life coaching model to work out how to shift the balance in life to experience those moments of happiness more often. Then sit back and enjoy watching those positive vibes spread out from you to lift the spirits of others: we all know that if somebody smiles at you, it is almost impossible not to smile back.

Research reference:

Fowler JH, Christakis NA.(2008) Dynamic spread of happiness in a large social network: longitudinal analysis over 20 years in the Framingham Heart Study. BMJ.2008 Dec 4;337:a2338.

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