December 6th, 2008 20:09 EST
Smile: Happiness Is Contagious
New research from Harvard Medical School and the University of California, San Diego suggests that happiness is influenced not only by the people you know, but by the people they know.
The study showed that happiness spreads through social networks, sort of like a virus, meaning that your happiness could influence the happiness of someone you`ve never even met.
Sadness spreads too, but much less efficiently, says study co-author James H. Fowler, PhD, of the University of California-San Diego."
No man is an island, and now it turns out that not just our deeds and words but also our emotions affect those around us. For our own health and that of those we associate with, it`s imperative that we have a rosy outlook on life. (Thus saith the cynical and gloomy pundit)
I have seen this happiness bug spread like a contagion. When I lived in Oakland, CA I worked in an office of about 100 employees. One day an employee who was well liked by his colleagues and by management won $50,000 in the lottery, the happy news spread like wildfire and for the rest of the day everyone walked around with a big smile.
For our emotional health it`s important that we carefully choose which social organizations to join. If you are a member of a Goth group don`t be surprised if you are gloomy most of the time.
Smile the next time you are at church or at a meeting of your social club, you will be spreading warmth and happiness in your circle of friends and acquaintances.
Unfortunately, for me there is no hope because most of my friends are as cynical and world-weary as I am. But I will do my part to spread happiness by ending my essay with this emoticon: : C )