Happiness really is contagious

Happiness really is contagious

And your happiness positively affects your friends, your friends' friends, and your friends' friends' friends.
Dec 24, 2008
By dvm360.com staff
Are you feeling a little down in the mouth this holiday season, what with the economic recession darkening your doorstep? Come on, get happy. You’ll be glad to know happiness is about friends, not money. This is according to a new study by Harvard Medical School that studied the collective power of good vibes.

Researchers looked at 5,000 people over 20 years and found that when one person became happy, the network effect went up to three degrees away. That means if you get happy, it can trigger a social chain reaction over in one year or less that benefits not just your friends, but your friends’ friends and your friends’ friends’ friends. This is the first study to show the indirect spread of happiness: You don’t have to know the person in your extended social network to be in a better mood because he or she is happy.

One of the study’s authors, James Fowler, says this indirect happiness works better than money in your pocket. Having an extra $5,000 in your wallet boosts your chances of becoming happier by roughly 2 percent, Fowler says. A friend of your friend who gets happy increases your chances of increased bliss by 10 percent. A friend of your friend’s friend who gets happy boosts your chance to get happy by 5.6 percent.

And don’t worry: This infection rate apparently doesn’t work as well for sadness. So, smile as often as you can and think positive—recession or not. You really help make everyone’s life a little better.

Hot topics on dvm360

Blog: Election results pose obstacles for veterinary prescription law

Flip in U.S. Senate's majority may slow progress of Fairness to Pet Owners Act.

7 steps to a better relationship between veterinarians and rescue groups

A DVM in the city shares his advice to veterinary practices for working with rescues.

The war between shelters, veterinarians needs to end

Despite practitioners’ legitimate gripes, they’re hurting themselves.

Making it work: Cavanaugh Pet Hospital dedicates itself to a positive, productive shelter relationship

Watch "Moustakas" benefit from Cavanaugh Pet Hospital's partnership with Furry Kids Refuge.

Ebola-exposed dog's first test for the virus is negative

Bentley will continue to be treated with an abundance of caution for the remainder of his quarantine, while his owner has been declared 'virus-free.'