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Catch Happyness From Your Friends

A smiley by Pumbaa, drawn using a text editor.
Image via Wikipedia

In the latest research we find out that happiness really is infectious. You catch it from your friends so it becomes really important what friends you choose to hang out with.

These days it seems there are two groups of people those that enjoy dooming and glooming about the economy, their health etc.. you know the ones, if you ask them how they are, they will more than likely say something like, “As well as can be expected…” or “Fine, but you know how it is, this economy is going to make it so hard to stay that way.”

Then there is the other kind, the ones I like to hang with, the ones that say things like: “I’m great! The universe is in a teaching mode at the moment and I am going to learn all I can.” or something like it.

New research from James Fowler of UC San Diego and Nicholas Christakis of Harvard Medical School shows that happiness spreads far and wide through a social network traveling not just the well-known path from one person to another but even to people up to three degrees removed.

This holiday season, during gloomy economic times which, if things get dire enough, might be called a “depression” it is heartening to know, said Fowler, that “happiness spreads more robustly than unhappiness” and seems to have a greater effect than money.

The study is being published in the British Medical Journal.

“Scientists have been interested in happiness for a long time,” said Fowler. “They’ve studied the effect of everything from winning the lottery to losing your job to getting sick, but they never before considered the full effect of other people. We show that happiness can spread from person to person to person in a chain reaction through social networks.”

“One of the key determinants of human happiness is the happiness of others,” said Christakis. “An innovative feature of our work was exploring the idea that emotions are a collective phenomenon and not just an individual one.”

Christakis and Fowler used data from the Framingham Heart Study to recreate a social network of 4,739 people whose happiness was measured from 1983 to 2003. To assess the participants’ emotional wellbeing, they relied on answers to four items from the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale: “I felt hopeful about the future”; “I was happy”; “I enjoyed life”; and “I felt that I was just as good as other people.”

The research shows that happiness loves company. Happy people tend to cluster together, and, on the surface, people with more social contacts seem generally happier. Fowler and Christakis observe, however, that what matters there is not just the total number of connections but the number of happy ones.

On average, every happy friend increases your own chance of being happy by 9 percent. Each unhappy friend decreases it by 7 percent.

Happiness, the researchers found, spreads in a social network up to three degrees of separation: You are 15 percent more likely to be happy if directly connected to a happy person; 10 percent if it’s the friend of a friend who is happy; and 6 percent if it’s the friend of a friend of a friend.

Unhappiness also spreads, but not nearly as much.

“The effects we observe may not seem like much at first,” said Fowler, “but consider that $5,000 extra dollars, in 1984, was associated with just a 2 percent increase in happiness and you see that the power of other people is incredible. Someone you don’t know and have never met the friend of a friend of a friend can have a greater influence than hundreds of bills in your pocket.”

The structure of connections matters, too. “Remarkably,” said Fowler, “where we sit in the social network has a big impact on how happy we are.”

According to the study, individuals’ happiness depends not only on how many friends they have but also on how many friends their friends have. In social-network terms, this is known as “centrality.” And the more central a person is the better connected their friends or the wider the social circle the more likely they are to become happy. (The effect does not work the other way around: Becoming happy doesn’t widen a social circle.)

Fowler and Christakis also looked at what happens to happiness with distance. When a friend who lives within a mile becomes happy, it increases the probability a person is happy by 25 percent. More distant friends have no significant effect. Similar effects are seen in siblings who live within a mile and in co-resident spouses versus distant siblings and distant spouses. Next-door neighbors have a significant effect, 34 percent, while neighbors further away, even on the same block, do not.

“We think the spread of emotion has a fundamental psychobiological aspect,” said Christakis. “Physical personal interaction is necessary, so the effect decays with distance.”

So who do you choose to hang out with, come one choose your happyer friends and maybe you will have nothing to worry about as happyness also makes you wealthier!

live a balanced life…

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December 8, 2008 Posted by | Lifestyle | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Happiness Is Easier With Friends

My social Network on Flickr, Facebook, Twitter...

Image by luc legay via Flickr

A new study has come out about social networks and it has proven something most of us have suspected for many years: the more friends you have the happier you are. PHYSORG.COM

Now this is very true and most of us know it, however I have a teenager and he is the last of 4 children and all of them had to go through the age of wanted lots of friends and thinking they had to change themselves or appear different in some way to have and to hold those friends. This in my experience only leads to un-happiness.

So in line with adding to the research I would like to add a few Rules of Friendship (for everyone but especially for our teens):

  1. If you have to act, think or be different in any way from who you are to have a certain set of friends, they are not your friends. They don’t even know you, nor you them because all of you are acting differently from who you really are.
  2. If you have to lie or hide what is going on with your friends from your parents, think again. Those friendships may (I said may) not be good friendships. a little hint with parents, they are not actually trying to make your life miserable.) Most of the time parents just want to keep you safe, yes some parents may not take the time to really get to know your friends and disapprove before knowing the facts – but this is still their aim. We love you, so much we would do anything even make you hate us just to keep you safe.
  3. If you want friends – first you have to be one. Friends are people who are there when you need them, they are a shoulder to cry on and a smile in a crowd. Friends know when you need a good laugh and a good cry. Friends do not ever make you do something illegal or dangerous, not ever. Good friends are like parents, they want you to be safe and feel loved. Friends are the family you bring into your life.
  4. You can tell a person is your friend when: it makes you happy to be with them, they want the best for you, they know you are wonderful and amazing even when you don’t, they help you feel good about being you, they let you cry on them, with them and for them, they make you laugh and smile most of the time. Friends, real friends never (well hardly ever) compete with you, never put you down, never get jealous of your good fortune or your looks or your luck with the opposite sex, they never, ever put you in danger or allow you to put yourself in danger.
  5. Good friends love you, just the way you are.

live a balanced life…

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October 25, 2008 Posted by | Wellness | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Laugh, Laugh ‘Til The Tears Run Down Your Face

Laughter by David ShankboneImage via Wikipedia

Laugh every day for health and fitness. Yes, you heard right daily laughter helps to create a healthier, fitter you!

Ask yourself this… When was the last time you enjoyed a real belly laugh? Not just a snigger, a giggle or a titter, but a reall deep genuine belly laugh.

Laughter has so many benefits:

  • helps to reduce stress and release ‘happy hormones and chemicals through the brain and nervous system
  • lowers blood pressure
  • elevates the mood (those happy hormones and chemicals)
  • boosts the immune system
  • improves brain function
  • protects the heart
  • helps to connect you to others (connection is a deep survival need)
  • gives instant relaxation
  • is a great core workout as it activates the diaphragm and massages the internal organs

What if you don’t feel like laughing?

I’ll let you into a little secret your mood is what is called a state, and you can change state just by choice. Yes that’s right no-one can actually make you feel anything, you have to choose it (I have brought my kids up with this knowledge and it has created the most well adjusted kids). So the trick is to choose a different mood and happiness accomanied by laughter is very healing as well.

So try watching a comedy or cartoon, tell jokes with your friends (even if there not funny it is laughable), seek out humour in your daily life and respond to it by laughing, and last but by no means least – fake it until you make it, laugh for no reason at all. You will reap the results and it works better than any anti-depressant.

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August 22, 2008 Posted by | Fitness, Health, Wellness | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Best Preventative Medicine is… Happiness! Get Happy

We all know that when we’re happy we seem to stay well, and for years I have believed strongly in the power of being (not just saying positive things) happy. I know for sure due to my own history that consciously and intentionally staying positive, happy can not only prevent illness and chronic disease but can also heal even the most “incurable” (don’t believe in that term at all) health challenge. Now scientists are finding out, I and manyo of my peers have been on the right track all along.

New research shows being happy can add several years to life.

“Happiness does not heal, but happiness protects against falling ill,” says Ruut Veenhoven of Rotterdam’s Erasmus University in a study to be published next month.

After reviewing 30 studies carried out worldwide over periods ranging from one to 60 years, the Dutch professor said the effects of happiness on longevity were “comparable to that of smoking or not”.

That special flair for feeling good, he said, could lengthen life by between 7.5 and 10 years.

The finding brings a vital new piece to a puzzle currently being assembled by researchers worldwide on just what makes us happy — and on the related question of why people blessed with material wealth in developed nations no longer seem satisfied with their lives.

Once the province of poets or philosophers, the notions of happiness and satisfaction have been taken on and dissected, quantified and analysed in the last few years by a growing number of highly serious and respected economists — some of whom dub the new field “hedonics”, or the study of what makes life pleasant, or otherwise.

“The idea that there is a state called happiness, and that we can dependably figure out what it feels like and how to measure it, is extremely subversive,” says Bill McKibben in his 2007 book “Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future”.

“It allows economists to start thinking about life in richer terms, to stop asking ‘What did you buy?’ and to start asking ‘Is your life good?’.”

Growth in material wealth adds little to happiness once buying power hits 10,000 dollars a year per head, according to such research.

But happiness can be bolstered by friendship and human community, as well as larger social factors such as freedom, democracy, effective government institutions and rule of law.

In Veenhoven’s findings, published in the Journal of Happiness Studies, a scientific publication founded in 2000, the strongest effect on longevity was found among a group of US nuns followed through their adult life — perhaps reflecting the feel-good factor from belonging to a close-knit stress-free community with a sense of purpose. ” Physorg.com

Come on get happy, you better chase all your blues away,

the sun is shining, Come on get happy…

Live a balanced life… 

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August 19, 2008 Posted by | General, Health, Wellness | , , , , | 1 Comment