You may think your attentive spouse, your loving children and good friends are affecting your happiness. But what if there is some deeper magic at work in your life?
According to a new study published this month in the British Medical Journal, the people they are connected with make you happy as well. The study proposes that happiness is transmitted through social networks, almost like a germ is spread through personal contact.
James Fowler of the University of California-San Diego explored how social ties influence our moods and our sense of well-being. The primary finding: People who are surrounded by happy people are more likely to be happy themselves. In addition, the people surrounding the people we know make a difference too!
Imagine several pebbles thrown into a pond, sending ripples outward. Each pebble represents a happy person and the waves are the impact of that person’s mood on others. This affective impact extends through several degrees of separation, to the friends of a friend of a person’s friends.
The study found that happy people form clusters and the happiest people are those most centrally located in the clusters.
According to the new study, your probability of being happy rises over 15% if a friend or family member is happy, 9.8% if friends of your friend or family member are happy, and 5.6% if friends of the friends of your friend or family member are happy.
Of course, the researchers stress personal factors such as self-esteem, job satisfaction, rewarding hobbies, stress level and marital quality also affect happiness.
Bottom line: Want to be happy? Make others happy. How to make others happy? Be happy.