Hi, I am Nataly and I am the co-founder of Work It, Mom!
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According to a new study, a person’s happiness doesn’t just have a positive effect on the happiness of their close friends and family, but on people they only casually interact with, like neighbors, colleagues and acquaintances. From the Boston Globe:
Psychologists have long known that feelings can be contagious over short time frames or that people reflexively return smiles. But the new social network analysis showed that that contagious effect extends three “degrees” - as far as a friend of a friend of a friend - and drops off with time and distance.
This makes a lot of sense to me. I had a really crappy day yesterday, happiness-wise. In the morning I went to work at a coffee shop, to get out of my usual routine (which I read you should do when your day isn’t going well). The guy behind the counter was giddy, cheerful and friendly, which at first annoyed me to no end. Yes, the coffee is for her and no, I don’t want that just-out-of-the-oven bran muffin, thank you. But when I went up to get my coffee refill and was met with more of his giddy cheerfulness, I smiled and chatted with him for a bit. When I sat down to keep working, I felt better. I was happier.
I worry a lot about how my mood affects my daughter - for example, I try not to let her see me cry — my husband, my family, but I worry less about how it affects my friends or people I meet at a coffee shop. But having read about this study I think I might think twice before taking out my crankiness on a friendly coffee shop guy.
Here’s my favorite odd bit from the study: While a cheerful next-door neighbor increases one’s likelihood of happiness by 34 percent, a happy spouse who lives in the same house contributes just 8 percent. Hmm. The researchers speculate that this has something to do with the fact that happiness spreads more along same-sex lines (what about same sex couples then?) but I’m not quite sure about that. For now, I won’t let my husband see this or he will wonder why I stop to have a cheery chat with our neighbor and grunt at him after a tough day.
What do you think about the study? Do you find that how happy you feel is affected not just by your family, but by colleagues and casual friends?
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