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Happiness IS Contagious

Study: Happiness IS Contagious


It looks like Bobby McFerrin was right when he sang, “don’t worry be happy.” According to a study published in Statistics in Medicine and conducted at Harvard  University and the University of California, happiness is contagious.

That’s good news for friends, neighbors, and spouses of happy people.   The study found that when a person becomes happy, a friend who lives  close to the happy person has a 25 percent higher likelihood of becoming happy  too. The spouse of the happy person has an 8 percent increased chance  of happiness, and the next-door neighbors have a 34 percent  chance. But there’s more.

The researchers conducted a review of other studies, including the ongoing  Framingham Heart Study and the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health.  Upon analysis the scientists not only found that certain relationships are most  impacted by happiness, they propose a theory called the “social contagion  theory” of ”three degrees of influence“ This is where  the study results get exciting. Lead researcher and professor at Harvard Medical  School, Nicholas Christakis, says that “Everyday interactions we  have with other people are definitely contagious, in terms of happiness.” While  that may seem obvious, he adds that the effect goes well beyond the  people with whom we have direct contact. When one person  becomes happy, the effect can spread by three degrees, which includes friends of  friends.

The researchers assessed people’s responses to survey questions,  including:  “How often during the past week would you say:  ‘I enjoyed  life? I felt hopeful about the future?’”

Of course, happiness may come in waves and, as a result, there are challenges  linked to studying happiness. But, when you consider the belief that there are  only 6 degrees of separation linking people, and that we can influence 3 degrees  of those people, it is quite a remarkable notion that if we make an effort to be truly happy (no, not the fake stuff!) then we can have a profound effect on  those around us.

By Michelle Schoffro Cook

Michelle Schoffro Cook, MSc, RNCP, ROHP, DNM, PhD is an international  best-selling and 14-time book author and doctor of traditional natural medicine,  whose works include: 60 Seconds  to Slim, Healing Recipes, The  Vitality Diet, Allergy-Proof, Arthritis-Proof, Total Body Detox, The  Life Force Diet, The Ultimate pH Solution, The 4-Week Ultimate Body Detox Plan,  and The Phytozyme Cure.  Check out her natural health resources and  subscribe to her free e-magazine World’s Healthiest News at  to receive monthly health news, tips, recipes and more. Follow her on Twitter @mschoffrocook  and Facebook.


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