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

Veterinarians: Your clients are going to Google with these cat questions

Search engine shares the top 10 questions people asked about dogs and cats in 2014.

Vetcetera: The complex topic of canine fear-related aggression

A guided tour of resources for addressing this popular and complicated subject, featuring advice from Dr. John Ciribassi.

Reality TV and the veterinarian: Discussing mainstream dog training advice with clients

Your clients may be getting behavior advice from cable TV. Get your opinion in the mix.

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.