1000 petals by axinia

the only truth I know is my own experience

Being happy is viral – study says December 6, 2008

 image by axinia

That is what I always suspected and now  it is official:  Happiness is contagious!

Researchers from Harvard Medical School and the University of California, San Diego have found that “happiness” is not the result solely of a cloistered journey filled with individually tailored self-help techniques. Happiness is also a collective phenomenon that spreads through social networks like an emotional contagion.

In a study that looked at the happiness of nearly 5000 individuals over a period of twenty years, researchers found that when an individual becomes happy, the network effect can be measured up to three degrees. One person’s happiness triggers a chain reaction that benefits not only their friends, but their friends’ friends, and their friends’ friends’ friends. The effect lasts for up to one year. Conversely, sadness does not spread through social networks as robustly as happiness (!).

They also found that, contrary to what your parents taught you, popularity does lead to happiness. People in the center of their network clusters are the most likely people to become happy, odds that increase to the extent that the people surrounding them also have lots of friends.

This is the first study to demonstrate the indirect spread of happiness, showing that one person’s emotional state can be affected by someone he doesn’t directly know. Previous research has shown that certain behavior-based phenomena such as obesity and smoking cessation spread through networks like a social contagion, but this is the first to demonstrate that emotions can as well. This research adds further proof to the idea that because we are all interconnected in social networks, our health is interconnected.

Interesting graphics and research results here.

What I love about these findings is that is sets up a clear message: my own happiness is NOT ONLY MY OWN, it has an impact on so many people around… In fact, even if every 4th person will be a happy one, the world will be saved!!! The question is then how to become that happy person? – my simple recipe is here.

P.S I wonder what they will find out by researching bloggers – something make me think that reading “happy” bloggers is even more contagious! 🙂

LOVE, axinia


28 Responses to “Being happy is viral – study says”

  1. Sahaja Says:

    I dont know abt the statistics and studies regarding this…but I am sure u spread happiness thru ur wonderful words…..and its sort of new definition to blogging which you give 😀
    Ohhh I am not flatterring my blog-Mama but am just acknowledging 🙂

    Keep spreading 🙂 and Keep blogging 😀

  2. That is an interesting study, Axinia, though I’m not entirely convinced with its findings. This study presents the same results as the verse penned by Ella Wheeler Wilcox:

    Laugh, and the world laughs with you; 😆
    Weep, and you weep alone. 😥

  3. Jean-Yves Cowan Says:

    The problem with “Happiness as collective in situation” is that what will happen to this “feeling” when the collective is no longer? Will the integrity of this “joyful-sensation” be an integrity of dependance? How will all the ‘happy-beings’ deal with “the outsider”? Lastly, this wonderous synchronicity is only factional, considering the whole of humanity is not so “happy”. Maybe depression is not contagious, but fear is more contagious than hate. And we hate not being happy.

  4. axinia Says:

    @Sahaja, thanks dear – I know you are not flattering 🙂

    @Raj, the quote fits perfectly! I wonder what makes you suspicious about the study results? 5000 participans over 20 years is a solid study.

    @Jean-Yves Cowan, I see your point very well. What I believe is that BEING HAPPY is a natural state of a human being. Why people are not happy it is a different question, actually it is a mystery for me…

  5. Sahaja Says:

    Heyyyy There is snow falling in your blog….Woooooow I am smilingggg off to glory!!

  6. axinia Says:

    Sahaja, that is a December feature avaliable to everyone from WP (on your Dashboard go to “appearance” and then to “extras”) – it is easy and funny 🙂


  7. Sahaja Says:

    Yup Yup I enabled it now 😀 ….it looks wonderful on ur theme though 😀 Thank you 🙂

  8. guqin Says:

    In today’s world of anxiety, I agree indeed, happiness is the biggest virtue.

  9. guqin Says:

    I am with Axinia on snow. Snow is literally the most beautiful thing I have ever seen, more beautiful than beautiful women and any arts. It is thought-provoking that nature shows its charm in the utmost simplicity. But I met snow only once all my life so far. It was a three-day meeting.

  10. Diffio Says:

    “if every 4th person will be”… It just says that so many people in the world are unhappy.
    Very sad.

  11. swaps Says:

    What a grim report!!

    But it is true…everybody want a part of happiness, but only the loving will share your sadness. I think love is the compelling emotion to share someone’s grief. When someone pledges their ‘love’, just wait until hard times hit you.

    The passion of grief is exclusively for heroes (like in Greek tragedies)

    (Axinia, thanks for the snowfall…..so when will you treat us with a white night?)

  12. Bad Karma Says:

    > University of California, San Diego
    w00t! I went to school there and studied Cognitive Science.

  13. Sahaja Says:

    @ Swaps – I dont consider happiness as a emotion like a gush of adrenaline makes u happy – no, thats excitement I suppose!
    Happiness is something within always…….as Axinia said, its a natural state of human being……It is overshadowed by emotions sometimes and that makes you feel that you are not happy….. I dont know if thats true but thats what I feel!

  14. […] Дзынь извиняетсяДао Дзынь о диагнозах1000 petalsBeing happy is viral -…What is the difference…Sparkling quotes by R…. << Потеря […]

  15. swaps Says:

    @Sahaja, people like you are predisposed to happiness, you attract similarly inclined people and so the ‘virus’ can spread. But cynics like me are immune to it….I look out for some tragedy in some corner of the world and sigh.
    (I must admit some times I do catch the ‘virus’ from you and the ‘crafty’ Axinia.)

  16. The study is a good one, Axinia, but things don’t work out that way. Even if half the people of the world are happy, the world would not be a happy place. The world would be a happy place only when every human being is happy and unfortunately, such a thing is almost impossible 😦

  17. Sahaja Says:

    @ Swaps – Thanks very much 😀
    dont know what to say 😦 ..

  18. axinia Says:

    @Raj, it is a good point indeed – the complete happiness on this Earth is only possible if everyone is happy. My question here is if everyone is really willing to be happy (look and swaps, he declares he always needs some tragedy)…
    Isn`t it so that we are what we want to be?

    @swaps, I am happy to hear that you catch my happy virus sometimes 🙂 I do not believe that cynics are immune to it!! – I mean latest when you meet me in person, you will forget aout your cynicism 🙂

  19. Sahaja Says:

    @ Axinia and Swaps –

    Swaps, I guess its just the nature of person to be like you or like me…….I mean, its just that u see whats missing first and i see whats in there….And its not cynicism i think….its nothing wrong and infact each has its own advantages…..But I feel being happy is not related to this…it might be influenced, but still in our hands! One of my best friends is like you….If i smile that its raining in summer, he sighs and says nothing is in place! But still we are best friends 😀 and he says this thing to me – “U dont know much of Life thats why u are like this…..I know the pain so I am like this! ” Somehow I cant comprehend that 😦 …

    Axinia, Am I correct in thinking so…..I did not see much in life so cant possibly make such comments! But you could tell us abt this.

  20. axinia Says:

    Sahaja, dear…
    you know when I was at your age, my father (who has spent 2 years in war) used to say that “life will show you its hard side” – because I was as I am.

    Years passed, I have seen some personal disasters and humiliations, have experienced a difficult immigration and faced many many things… And yet, my attitude to life, to people, to myself HAS NOT CHANGED at all! I am still in love with everyone and enjoy my life.

    What I feel is that true happiness is above circumstances….

  21. Sahaja Says:

    Thanks Axinia… Hope I stay I am as I grow 🙂 like you

  22. radha Says:

    to me happyness and joy are the same. i know they make distinctions out there but personally i can be happy only because i can feel the joy inside. the pure joy of the being. it s just awsome and sorry for not havin words to describe it.
    in my blog they also uploaded an automatic english Xmas song not only the snow, i guess evrbody with WP can listen to it 🙂

  23. swaps Says:

    Don’t they say – “Women are from Venus,and men from Mars”.
    In general, men and women have very different outlook of happiness (I first realized it in ‘Anna Karenina’….and it is vindicated so many times).

  24. kanagu Says:

    very beautiful insight on happiness…. happiness for me is a state at which it will spread from from one person to another. But at times I am seeing who are worrying about the small things and losing their happiness..

  25. guqin Says:

    Happiness is like warmth, sadness like chill, both propagate. It is understandable that people like to stay away from chill. When I am sad, I naturally hide away from others too so that they don’t get a cold from me.

  26. Axinia,

    I don’t think it’s a case of being happy because some want to be happy and others don’t. Everybody wants to be happy. No one wants to be sad. It’s the circumstances and surroundings that make one happy or sad. I’m like Swaps too. A tragedy somewhere in the world makes me sad. We don’t want tragedies but they keep happening all the time 😦 Here’s an interesting link about happiness:



    You’ve hit the nail on the head, man. “Men are from Mars and women are from Venus” and this certainly applies to happiness 🙂

  27. axinia Says:

    guqin, thanks for that absolutely wonderful metaphor! – I never thought of it that way, but I like your comaprison.

  28. Happiness is not likely to be contagious for if it was all simple we wouldn’t need need guidance and enlightenment to help us find out way. True and deep happiness should not be confused for good cheer, excitement and euphoria which are quick to come and go. Happiness is built on a more stable foundation with hopefully a much longer shelf life.

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