Blog

Being Human Means Being Happy

In 2008 Harvard social scientist Dr. Nicholas Christakis and his colleague James Fowler at the University of California in San Diego created a sensation with their announcement about The Happiness Effect (Time Magazine)  – a 20-year study showing how emotions can pass among a network of people up to three degrees of separation away.

So what this means is that your joy may, to a larger extent than you realize, be determined by how cheerful your friends’ friends’ friends are, even if some of the people in this chain are total strangers to you.

How did they do it? Christakis and Fowler explored the emotional state of nearly 5,000 people and the more than 50,000 social ties they shared. That led to their intriguing finding of just how contagious happiness can be: if a subject’s friend was happy, that subject was 15% more likely to be happy too; if that friend’s friend was happy, the original subject was 10% more likely to be so. Even if the subject’s friend’s friend’s friend–entirely unknown to the subject–was happy, the subject still got a 5.6% boost. The happiness chain also worked in the other direction, radiating from the subject out to her friends.

So when you think about it, if we would “infect” or energize each other with happiness, everyone on earth would be 100% happy.  You may be thinking, but I don’t feel happy right now. But this is not an excuse because even if you fake it, other people around you will perceive it as real, and will become happier, and more joyful – and it will come back to you through someone else.

This is what we need to do in society – artificially cultivate love, and more caring relations among all of us. This is a higher level of existence that we should begin aspiring to. Our more corrected state of being will ultimately become the driving force of change and growth in today’s challenged society.

An online survey of 28,153 people in more than 51 countries by Nielsen, found that as the world grapples with a recession and financial markets remain volatile, many people are reminding themselves that money can’t buy happiness.

The Nielsen Happiness Study found that globally, women are actually happier than men in 48 of the 51 countries surveyed. “Because they are happier with non-economic factors, women’s happiness is more recession-proof,” Nielsen Vice President of Consumer Research Bruce Paul said in a statement. … Men are happier with money, while women find greater joy in friendships and relationships with their children, co-workers and bosses … Women are also more optimistic about the future … more content with their sex lives…

As well as gauging levels of happiness, the Nielsen survey examined what specific factors contributed to happiness around the world. “Many of the world’s poorer and emerging markets outranked developed countries for happiness and satisfaction levels in nearly all aspects of their lives,” said Paul.

We plan to explore the subject of happiness more here to see what really makes us happy, and how we can arrange society so that we can all be a lot happier than we are right now. We will also talk about the special role women have in this vital process we all have to go through together.