It turns out, happiness may be limitless. It also may be contagious. Just like someone’s bad mood can sour yours, being around a happy person can cheer you up.
According to a study by Nicholas Chirstakis ‘88, HMS professor of medical sociology and of medicine, who has researched the contagion of emotions in large social networks, finds that happiness may be a collective phenomenon.
“Just as some diseases are contagious,” Christakis says, “we’ve found that many emotions can pulse through social networks.”
And unlike a stomach virus, happiness is something you can actually enjoy.
So, how do we as individuals make ourselves happy? I believe that if you try to be positive it’s a great first step.
For instance, sometimes I really want to flip the bird to the driver that cut me off in traffic. Why? Because it serves some raw tribal part of me that really showed that guy! There’s nothing like flipping a middle finger that can make you feel like a hero! However, when I do that, it actually makes me angrier. I can’t let it go. I stew. Instead of just letting the very important driver go ahead of me and detaching from the outcome, I get to my destination and have to tell the story of ‘that jerk face’ who cut me off. It might have been a nun for all I know. I think it was.
When I detach from the outcome all is good in the world, and I can go on to listening to NPR and drinking my coffee. Try it. You’ll see. And then your morning isn’t ruined by something as trivial as traffic.
I think traffic is the ‘gym’ of practicing positivity. You need to be in it everyday, and HOLY @#$%, can it set you off and wear you out! But it’s traffic.
Pause. And breathe. Stretch. Make a choice.
And then you can be a contagiously happy person for the rest of the day….until the ride home. But, remember to think about it! Try to be positive. It takes practice. Work those happy muscles, you sexy beast. You’ve got this. Good Luck!