There’s a new study that followed a large group of people for about twenty years. In that time, they found happiness to be more contagious than previously thought. Your personal happiness may depend on how happy your friends’ friends’ friends are, even if you don’t know them. The study also reports that a cheerful next-door neighbor has more of an effect on your general mood than even your spouse!
“Your happiness depends not just on your choices and actions, but also on the choices and actions of people you don’t even know who are one, two and three degrees removed from you,” said Dr. Nicholas A. Christakis, a physician and social scientist at Harvard Medical School and an author of the study, to be published Friday in BMJ, a British journal. “There’s kind of an emotional quiet riot that occurs and takes on a life of its own, that people themselves may be unaware of. Emotions have a collective existence — they are not just an individual phenomenon.”
The research also found that the happiness of your friends’ friends’ friend can have a bigger impact on your happiness, than if you had an extra $5,000 in your pocket.
The study was conducted on the happiness of 4,739 people, and their connections with several thousand others, from 1983 to 2003. The connections included spouses, relatives, close friends, neighbors and co-workers.
Read more about this fascinating study of our relationships with others at the New York Times. One thing that this proves is just how connected we all really are.