Joy to the World!
We’ve always known it instinctively, but neuroscientists have now actually measured and proved it: joy is contagious – so spread it!
Happy people have happy friends and unhappy, pessimistic people have unhappy friends. We associate with people of like-mind and like-mood, and our brains are profoundly influenced by the mindset and mood-set of our social circle – both on and off line. Every happy friend we have increases our probability of being happy by 9%. In comparison, an extra $5000 in income increases our happiness by only 2% and only for a short time – of the order of a few months at most. Even friends of friends – up to three degrees of separation away from us – can exert an uplifting influence on us.
So if you’d like more happiness in your life, spend more time with happy people and circulate in optimistic circles. If you’re already happy, know that you have a positive influence on others.
The power of positive emotions, such as joy, peace, curiosity, optimism, gratitude, awe and love, goes much further than making us feel good. These emotions change the chemistry and structure of our brains for the better. Over 300 different scientific studies of positivity, examining more than 275 000 people, showed that positive emotions breed success, they don’t just reflect success. Positive emotions broaden our minds, expand our creativity and enhance our problem solving skills. We take in more information from our environment and we’re better able to view things in context. Positivity raises our ability to see the bigger picture, to remember details, to generate options and to bounce back from setbacks.
So I wish you joy, peace and fulfilling times with family and friends over Christmas. Positive life experiences aren’t merely an end to strive for, but a means to ever-increasing joy and fulfilment because we become more observant, energetic and generous. May your festive season be truly festive!