Research Suggests Strangers may Cheer You Up

In Research by Paul Martin1 Comment

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.

Paul Martin

Paul Martin

I am the Director of Multimedia at ProTrainings, as well as the primary blogger here. I take care of the video editing, graphic design and corporate branding that you see on every video and every page on this site, as well as at ProCPR®, ProFirstAid®, ProBloodborne, StudentCPR, etc. My work is literally everywhere that ProTrainings goes. I also handle our Twitter accounts, so be sure to follow us there, if you use twitter! You can be sure that I’m not just an average joe writing this blog, but one of the founders of the company.

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  1. Laura Bergells

    Well, you made me happy and I don’t know you! 🙂

    I wonder how the rise of social networking sites like FaceBook, LinkedIn, etc. will impact the future of this study. Do happy 2- and 3-degree connections make you a happier networker?

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